We Are the Best (2014)
We’ve had several films recently exploring the lives of female punk singers, and in most, the characters are young, spirited, demanding to be seen and desperate to declare their independence. But the latest film to grab onto this trend, the new Swedish film We Are the Best from writer/director Lukas Moodysson, features the youngest punks in a very sweet and energetic coming of age comedy.
Teen actors Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, and Liv LeMoyne play Bobo, Klara, and Hedvig, who form an all-girl punk band after watching a talent show at their school and discovering the community center has free practice rooms (with instruments). Barkhammar, more or less the protagonist, plays introverted drummer Bobo, who is best friends with Grosin’s more gregarious Klara, and LeMoyne’s Hedvig, a devout Christian. The girls talk of having hard lives with parents who just don’t understand and teachers who are unreasonable. In truth their parents’ greatest sins seems to be occasionally being absent (although Klara’s father is a hilarious example of being overly involved) and their teachers’ crimes are asking the girls to participate in PE. But the girls draw to punk has nothing to do with the big issues they need to rebel against, and more specifically the way they choose to do it.
And that is what makes We Are the Best a different kind of coming of age film. For adult viewers the girls behavior can be a bit shrill at times -they yell and run around and generally do exactly what we find annoying about teenagers. But when you realize their behavior is precisely the behavior society has come to accept from boys but admonish in girls, it becomes an interesting study of how we are raising girls, even in the post-feminist world, to behave slightly different from the male sex as they reach puberty. For example, their decision to raise hell in a mall or fast food restaurant would be discounted as boys will be boys, if they were boys, but isn’t treated as quite so harmless when they are three unchaperoned girls.
Moodysson set his comedy in the 80s, the time of his own youth, when punk was dying. Ironically, the release of this new movie, and in coincidence with several other movies about girl punks, allows the viewer to take note of two very important themes being addressed in We Are the Best with a light touch – that punk music meant as much to the girls as the boys…and the girls still have a lot to rebel against.
Currently in limited theatrical release.
Watch the We Are the Best Trailer