We’ve decided to stick to Foreign Cinema for the time being, for no other reason really than because it’s awesome. This week’s pick, by Jillian, is no exception. I mean, it’s a film about an 80’s teen punk band FFS, what more can you want?
Incidentally, the most dominant thought I take away from this is: should I cut my hair über short?
As always, *spoilers!*
We Are The Best (2013)
Director: Lukas Moodysson
Stars: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne
IMDB Synopsis: Three girls in 1980s Stockholm decide to form a punk band — despite not having any instruments and being told by everyone that punk is dead.
Bobo and Klara are BFFs who take great comfort from their friendship, while the world around them seems to reject their ideals.
Classmates (right out of Sparkle Motion) taunt them for the way they look – that old “You’d be so pretty if only you…” chestnut – and maintain that punk is dead. The girls are secure enough in themselves to push back against this nonsense, they know punk still has a pulse and one day, whilst trying to drown out the sound of the local youth group band, Iron Fist (how original), they set about trying to prove it.
Sadly, enthusiasm alone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an instant hit and they must look outside their twosome for a solution to success. Enter Christian good girl, Hedvig, who plays mean guitar. Can the girls open Hedvig’s mind and show her ideas beyond her God, whilst simultaneously smashing the shit out of patriarchy via the medium of P-U-N-K? Hopefully!
This film does have a lovely feminist undertone. The girls get called ugly constantly by their male peers, and maybe this is why I liked it so much, as it really hit a nerve. All three girls are at a point in life where they’re questioning their own desirability, while actively making a pact not to conform to what’s expected of them, hence the reason the boys think they’re hideous. Bobo and Klara agree not to wear make-up and have punk haircuts maintained by themselves, in their respective bathrooms at home.
The girls have loving families by the way, though Bobo’s mother embarrasses her at parties, has relationship issues and sometimes men over. As a result, Bobo often comes across as the adult in their relationship. Her dad does come around from time to time, but is largely absent.
Klara’s family are even more hideous in that they’re encouraging and want to jam with the girls, which goes down like a lead balloon with Klara. When the girls fall out of favour with Hedvig’s highly religious mother, by persuading Hedvig to cut her very long blonde hair, Klara’s father finds it hilarious. He also spends a fair amount of his time wandering around in his pants in polite company and this makes his A-OK with me.
As the girls get better at music, under the tutelage of Hedvig, and polish their anti-PE anthem (my kind of girls), they also explore their blossoming interest in the opposite sex.
Bobo has a crush on Klara’s brother, sixteen year old Linus who’s quite nice to her, even when she gets drunk and pukes on his precious record collection. But there’s trouble ahead when the girls meet a fellow punk band, and Bobo and Klara set their sights on the same dude. Awkward.
All this coincides with a small gig the girls are booked to play with Iron Fist, organised by their local youth club.
On reviewing this film back, it could be said that not much happens action-wise. However, the beauty of this story lies in the relationship between the three girls, and between them and their families. Also, in the band sticking it to the man and learning to love themselves (basically the most important lesson you can ever learn, and some would argue, you never stop learning).
To the questions section! Will Bobo and Klara survive getting off with the same boy, in time to kick some serious musical butt? Will they ever prove that they’re the best? Will Hedvig renounce Jesus forever? Would a mohawk suit me?
And most importantly, will the band rock the shit out of their first real gig, proving without a shadow of doubt that Punk is still alive and kicking? All this and more will be revealed*.
My Thoughts: I have to apologise for a slightly all over the place review, I’m in a bit of a daze after a busy weekend and a late night (more to be revealed about that soon!). Our internet also decided to go down on Friday, so I was forced to view this via the Netflix app on my phone. Which was fine but a little more laborious that normal.
But I always try to deliver on my promises, hence completing this week’s assignment, like a boss.
I really liked We Are The Best and I liked it because of the central characters. I love them together and I wanted them to do well. I think they all played their parts really brilliantly and made me believe in them, which is no mean feat, especially when the characters are so young.
I also wish I’d had friends like them when I was 13. Lots of the time I completely identified with how they were feeling about themselves. Had I had a punk group to focus on back then, maybe I would have been less inclined to eat my lunch locked alone in a toilet cubicle every day.
Also, in all their awkward dealing with boys I will eternally be on the same page. It’s heartbreaking when the boy you like likes your friend and you just feel perpetually shit about yourself. Bobo almost breaks me when she’s trying to be nonchalant about her feelings.
All in all, this was a joy. I loved one scene in particular, when the girls gain access to an electric guitar and the well-meaning youth club workers quite condescendingly (but kindly) give Hedvig some pointers on how to play. She wipes the floor with them, despite never having picked up an electric version before.
The underlying message of friendship is gorgeous and the climax is hilarious. Watch it.
My Rating: 4/5 – Highly recommend.
So what did Jillian make of her choice this week? Go see for yourselves!
*We may never know the answer to one of them. Then again, never say never.