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We Are The Best/Vi ar bast!


Stars: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne, Anna Rydgren, Johan Liljemark, Mattias Wiberg, Jonathan Salomonsson, Charlie Falk, David Dencik, Lena Carlsson, Alvin Strollo, Peter Eriksson, Ann-Sofie Rase, Yiva Olaison, Steve Kratz

Director: Lukas Moodysson

While patronizing the characters is a fairly regular aspect of contemporary cinema, genuine charm is relatively rare in present-day cinema, which makes this delightful Swedish rites-of-passage drama-comedy all the more enjoyable.

Forget the current television addiction to Nordic noir. Lukas Moodysson (adapting the graphic novel by his wife Coco) makes a memorable return with his blackly comic drama set in Stockholm in 1982, where 13-year-old schoolgirls, perfectly played by Mira Barkhammar and Mira Grosin, refuse to believe punk is dead and set out to form their own punk band – despite being told by their schoolmates that “Punk’s Dead! Didn’t you know that?” and having no instruments.

Their experiences on the way to achieving (after a fashion) their objective, which includes recruiting ardent Christian fellow student and accomplished guitarist Liv LeMoyne (“I don’t like sport either” in unexpected response to their song ‘Hate the Sport’) to complete their band, are both funny and sharply observant about generation-gap daughter-parents relationships, clashes and bonding with fellow students in their American style high school, and the pangs of first love and jealousy triggered off by teenage love…

Among the many and consistent pleasures are scenes of three girls begging on the streets of Stockholm to try and get the money they need to buy an electric guitar, a party where mixing beer and wine ends up with Barhammar puking on their host’s records (a natural and believable sequence that arises out of character rather than being imposed, Apatow-style, on the narrative), and the climactic Santa Rock concert at a youth centre.

Realism is potentiated with plenty of Channel 4-letter words which work well in context, notably in the song title “Brezhnev and Reagan f*** off” sung by the all-male punk group led by Jonathan Salomonsson that acts as the credible catalyst for well-observed scenes of burgeoning teenage romance and the inevitable jealousy that follows.

Screenplay, direction, casting and performances add up to a wry and all too believable rites-of-passage picture overflowing with charm, cynically accurate observation and joyous high spirits.

Pray no Hollywood remake follows.

Alan Frank

Sweden 2013. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Colour.
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 14 Apr 2014