It would take someone with a cold cold heart to not be swept off their feet by the exceedingly charming We Are the Best! The film tells the rather simple story of two friends in their early teens, Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin), who team up with a fellow outcast classmate, Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne) to form a punk band in Sweden in 1982. Director Lukas Moodysson, whose more recent works have been exceptionally dark (e.g. Lilya-4-Ever and A Hole in My Heart), here adapts one of his wife’s (Coco Moodysson) graphic novels. We Are the Best! recalls earlier, lighter Moodysson films, such as Show Me Love and Together.
The film opens with the premise that, by 1982, punk was dead. Klara’s older brother had abandoned his punk band and lifestyle for a more mainstream existence. After a borderline bullying experience in gym class and a frustrating experience at the local art center, Bobo and Klara decide to channel their angst into forming a punk band. In true punk fashion, neither have any musical skills but they decide to forge ahead, with Klara picking up the bass and Bobo taking to the drums. After hearing Hedvig play guitar at a school concert, they decide to recruit her to join the band and teach them how to play. Tensions between outspoken Klara and religious Hedvig and between Bobo and Klara over a shared love interest lend some weight to an otherwise joyful coming of age story.
The strength of the film is the performances of the young actors and the wonderful enthusiasm they bring to their roles. This was the first movie for all the three main leads and they deliver very natural, convincing performances.
This was the last film I saw at the festival (yes, I am not reviewing the films in order) and I certainly went out on a high note. My experience was bookended by two of my favorite movies of the festival, this and my opening film, The Rocket.
Using the festival’s scoring system, I ranked this Excellent or 5 out of a possible 5.
Check out all my 2013 Philadelphia Film Festival posts!