We are the Best! (4 stars)

We are the Best!

Lukas Moodysson's hymn to adolescent mischievousness is a delight from start to finish

You could be forgiven for thinking Swedish director Lukas Moodysson has spent the last decade under a black cloud, making films like teen prostitution tale Lilya-4-Ever, lurid amateur porn drama A Hole In My Heart and the nihilistic Container. But from its joyous, uproarious title onwards, his latest is a genuine feelgood pleasure that takes you back to his 1998 debut Show Me Love and its commune-set follow-up, Together.

Based on his wife Coco’s graphic novel, Never Goodnight, We Are The Best! is set in Stockholm circa 1982. Punk music is dead but don’t tell the film’s trio of 13-year-old girls. At first, it’s just the bespectacled, boyish-looking Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and her rebellious, spiky-haired friend Klara (Mira Grosin). Both social outcasts in school, they have no instruments, little discernible musical talent and no idea of what to rebel against – but they sign their names up to play at the local youth centre anyway.

Soon enough, these two recruit Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), a Christian-worshipping, talented classical guitarist, and the band is formed. Songs range from ‘Hate The Sport’ – a rant against PE lessons – to the quite hilarious political anthem ‘Brezhnev, Reagan … Fuck Off!’. Like a snotty version of Joan Jett and the Runaways, they’re chaotic but charming.

But this is not really a film about fulfilling musical ambitions or smashing the state with radical ideas. What gives We Are The Best! its flavour is the beautiful everyday details Moodysson interjects; whether it’s the girls cooking fish fingers in the toaster, cutting Hedvig’s blonde locks to make her more punk or squabbling over boys, it’s a film full of adolescent mischievousness and growing pains. Extracting naturalistic performances from all his young stars, Moodysson seems to revel in these spirited characters. And you should too. It’s a delight from start to finish.

Limited release from Fri 18 Apr.

We Are the Best! Trailer

We Are the Best! (Vi är bäst!)

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • Sweden
  • 1h 42min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Lukas Moodysson
  • Cast: David Dencik, Liv LeMoyne, Mira Barkhammar
  • UK release: 18 April 2014

A look at teenage life in 1982 Stockholm through three 12 and 13 year old girls who decide to form a punk band.