Short Takes: We Are the Best!
By Violet Lucca
(Lukas Moodysson, Sweden/Denmark, 2013)
At last, another deserving addition to the canon of Non-Cloying Movies About Girls! Based on a graphic novel written by Coco Moodysson, this wonderfully digressive and funny story revolves around Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin), best friends who, on a rebellious whim, decide to form a band. Embodying a punk DIY ethos, neither girl tries to learn their instrument: they just bang out their only song, “Hate the Sport,” which combines their dislike of gym class with a protest against sociopolitical injustice.
In an attempt to refine their sound, they recruit Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), a skilled classical guitarist and devout Christian. Although she doesn’t agree with their radical politics, the former class pariah embraces her new friends. The trio’s brashness eventually incites a small riot—the highest punk honor.
But the film (which is set in the Eighties) goes beyond its feel-good tale of misfits coming together and explores the uncoolness of being an outsider. Sporting androgynous haircuts and (ostensibly) rejecting makeup, the girls are routinely insulted wherever they go. For the passive but intelligent Bobo, this harassment—and nascent romantic feelings—leads her to betray a friend. With fantastic performances by the three leads (only one of whom is a professional actor), the film fluidly alternates between the messiness and warmth of female friendship.