Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published September 11th 2014
A welcome return to form for Lukas Moodysson
Director: Lukas Moodysson (Show Me Love, Together, Lilya 4-Ever) Cast: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne
Around the turn of the millennium Swedish director Lukas Moodysson brought us two films that were warmly embraced by critics and the public and have grown in stature over the years, Show Me Love and Together. He's been AWOL since then, but is back on form with the exuberant and infectious We Are the Best!
Punk sisters Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin)
All the things that made Moodysson's first two features so great, and have been so markedly absent since then, have made a welcome return here. In a seamless blend of humour and pain he depicts teenagers struggling for identity, showing the embarrassment their parents cause them, their feelings of being repressed by a small town environment, their rebellious urge to buck the system and a sheer love for the music of the time. It's all captured in a raw immediacy and nostalgic affection that's akin to watching a home movie.
The film follows the exploits of Bobo, a social misfit high school student in Sweden in the early 1980s. Shunned by her fellow students, she despises conformity and anything mainstream. Together with best friend Klara, they form a two-girl punk band. In the true tradition of punk, neither can play an instrument or have any musical talent. Nor are they phased by the fact that punk has already had its day and is no longer on trend.
Natural anarchist Klara gives Hedvig a makeover
Bobo hits on the idea of inviting classically trained guitarist Hedvig to join their band. Despite being a total square, Hedvig bonds with Bobo and Klara because in their own differing ways all three are outcasts. To a small degree Hedvig's superior musicianship helps the band create a playlist of sorts, although their need for self expression was never going to be confined to just a set of badly played songs.
The punk backdrop is a perfect fit for Moodysson, who has such a rough and energetic style to his films. He loves the camera techniques of indie 70s cinema, sudden zoom ins, whip-like camera pans and a palette of bright video style technicolour.
His real winning ingredient though is the generosity he has for his characters. Like his previous best work, this is a film about young people wanting love and affection, and going about it in completely inappropriate ways. You can't help but warm to his spunky young protagonists and cheer them on.