Take a Drink: “We hate sport!”
Take a Drink: uggh… parents
Take a Drink: for punk vs. disco
Take a Drink: for every jam session
Take a Drink: whenever Klara is a little asshole
Do a Shot: for hairstyling and haircuts
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
It’s that wonderful time of year again- yep, critical Top 10 List season. Here at MovieBoozer we don’t exactly have glamorous Cannes correspondents or Sundance beat writers (although Mitch Hansch did get to SXSW and Rob Perez has a finger in most NYC pies), so now’s when we’re finally getting around to seeing a lot of the films populating those lists.
Haven’t seen it yet. Should I?
We Are the Best! is popping up on an awful lot of them, so no time to watch it like the present. Set in 1980s Stockholm, it follows 13 year old outsiders and punk fans Klara (Mira Grosin) and Bobo (Mira Barkhammar), who chance into forming a band and in proper punk spirit, just go with it. They start to get somewhere when they add a third, the reticent Christian Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), who actually, you know, knows how to play an instrument.
We Are the Best! is a product of husband wife team Lukas and Coco Moodysson, adapting her own comic book. It plays as a nostalgic ode to a place and time, but also, more importantly, an ode to adolescence. Coco has a great eye for the small details and larger concerns that nascent teenagers are preoccupied with, and Lukas and his game and remarkably natural cast bring them to authentic life.
Uggh, boys! Amirite?
In particular, the duo are tremendously observant of the little rebellions, conflicts, joys, and dramas of this important period of life, and ground them in subtle details and dialogue that communicate so much more than the sum of their parts. Elements like Bobo’s relationship with her mother (and her mother’s focus and mindset) or Hedvig’s mom’s table-turning allegory for peer pressure jump out at you precisely because of how underplayed they are.
Lukas’s direction is similarly subtle yet fantastic. The neon 80s costumes and hairstyling really pops, along with some pretty magic hour shots in one pivotal scene, but for the most part he uses handheld cameras and impromptu, uncinematic cuts to immerse us in these characters’ reality, almost documentary-style.
The film is in a consistent low key, with no real dramatic stakes, so when a little drama does crop up (boy trouble, of course), it’s hard to take it as seriously as the girls are. Another minor problem is how much of a window-dressing one of the prime selling points, punk, really is. Swap it out for thrash metal, rock-a-billy, or “outlaw country” and nothing changes.
Now… this would’ve been interesting.
The one thing that annoyed me most about the film is an ugly little through-line of Klara fucking with Hedvig because of who she is (a Christian). Klara clearly doesn’t get that she’s being a giant hypocrite (conform with our conformity, or become an outcast from the outcasts!), but more disturbingly, I’m not sure the Moodyssons do either. In the end, Hedvig caves and compromises her values for someone else’s vision of who she should be… and that’s pretty much her entire arc. You tell me what she was up to for pretty much the entire third act.
We Are the Best! is a perceptive portrait of the adolescent mindset and lifestyle, but probably not a very good influence on that same age group.