JDIFF Review – We Are The Best! (Vi är bäst!)

In Stockholm in 1982, Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin) are best friends, in the way that only pre-teen girls can be. When hanging out at their local youth centre, they become annoyed at the rock music being played and decide to set up their own punk band. The trouble is that neither of them can play an instrument, so they recruit Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne) to teach them.

We Are The Best! is not really about the punk music scene – although this is what brings the characters together – instead, it is about the relationships between three teenage girls as they waver on the cusp of adolescence.

The performances of the three lead actresses depend on one another in a truly remarkable way; the chemistry between Barkhammar, Grosin and LeMoyne is wonderful and they allow the power to shift between them, leaving room for jealousies, arguments and ultimately, resolutions. Each of the three is adorable, and the struggle that each goes through in their family lives is utterly relatable. There are times when they turn on one another for no other reason but pettiness – or so it seems – but this only serves to underline how young these kids really are.

We Are The Best! is based on a comic book by Coco Moodysson, who just so happens to be married to the film’s director; Lukas Moodysson. Before you call shenanigans, however, it has to be said that the film is an acutely observed portrait of youth and the transition between childhood and adolescence. The dialogue never feels forced or fake, making these three characters feel real and nuanced.

As director, Lukas Moodysson has coaxed warm and gentle performances from his central actresses, and these are the heart and soul of the film. It feels as though there was a lot of room left for improvisation, and the warmth that radiates from the screen is truly the relationship between these three girls. The story may be slightly unstructured and messy, but this merely adds to the chaotic charm of the film. There is also something to be said for the peer pressure that these three girls put one another under, as they change their musical styles, fashion sense and hairstyles in order to stay friends with one another; friendship is not always about acceptance, and this is clearly marked in the film.

We Are The Best! is a careful and precise observation of the journey between childhood and adolescence, and the friends who last us a lifetime. Barkhammar, Grosin and LeMoyne are wonderful in their roles, and utterly support one another. In the end, We Are The Best! is charming, warm and a whole lot of fun.

Rating: 4.5/5

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