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WE ARE THE BEST!

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.

Review by Louise Keller:
Propelled by its energy and sheer enthusiasm, Lucas Moodysson's film about a would-be teenage punk band is a vibrant shot in the arm. Moodysson captures all the unbridled spirit, optimism and chutzpah of youth and tosses it into the air for us to catch.

It is Stockholm in 1982 and Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin) are like two peas in a pod. We can tell at first glance that these two best friends are individuals - by the way they dress and by the punk hairstyles that accentuate their passion for music, even though Klara's cool older brother Linus (Charlie Falk) has now abandoned punk. It is not music but self-expression and bloody-mindedness that prompts the two rebels to form a band. 'I hate sport' is the sentiment of the first song they write; the audacity being that the girls have no musical knowledge whatsoever. They create impromptu rhythms and sounds with a drum kit and bass, practicing by hitting pots and pans and strumming a tennis racket.

The idea for Bob and Klara to recruit the unpopular, God-loving, conservative classical guitarist Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne) comes as a surprise and one that is totally left of field. 'You sing and play in different keys,' Hedvig tells the girls and is able to provide answers to music-related questions like 'What are chords, what is harmony and what does out of tune mean?' Hedvig's transformation is delicious, beginning when Klara, whose statement Mohawk leaves us with no doubt as to her commitment to being different, goes to work with a pair of scissors, leaving Hedvig's long blonde tresses strewn over the bathroom floor. That is just the beginning.

Moodysson creates a solid reality in which his teens live: we meet Bobo's unlucky in love single mother (Anna Rydgren) and Klara's eccentric family (Lena Carlsson and David Dencik). There are parties, rehearsals and the pairing up with two members of a male punk band, which prompt jealousies and insecurities. The narrative is unpredictable and like the girls, the action is wild, raucous and the energy contagious. As for the three girls, they are extraordinary - especially Grosin, whose cheeky, loud and irresistible Klara is unforgettable.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
He showed us his compassion for and understanding of Swedish youth (especially teenage girls) with Show Me Love (1998) and Lilya 4-Ever (2002), the two powerful features of Lukas Moodyson's that have had a release here in Australia, so We Are the Best is no surprise - nor is it is repetitious. This time he has adapted a comic book, although comic-tragic might be a better description, despite its positive resolution.

The simple storyline hides a maze of intimate and intricate issues that float in and out of focus as these youngsters step off the edge of their childhood into the abyss of a world with fangs. And if that sounds like a coming of age movie, it's my failure to express it better, because the journey is far more complex than that implies.

Impeccably, nay astonishingly, performed by Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin and Liv LeMoyne, the film sweeps us into their world and while sometimes we feel it sagging and drawn out, We Are the Best soon springs into new dramatic life. Each delivers a unique character, enhanced by their fascinating physicality. The swirling relationships between the three are a window into their characters and into 1980s Swedish society - not all that different from other European societies.

Music plays a key role, but as a vehicle to understanding the characters, not as an end in itself, and it comes with both humour and beauty, as well as punky attitude.

Moodyson's greatest achievement is taking us into the hearts of three young women who aspire to the same things we all do - a place in the world and love - but each in their own unique fashion.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

WE ARE THE BEST! (MA15+)
(Sweden, 2013)

Vi är bäst!

CAST: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne, Johan Liljemark, Mattias Wiberg, Jonathan Salomonsson,

PRODUCER: Lars Jönson

DIRECTOR: Lukas Moodysson

SCRIPT: Lukas Moodysson (comic book by Coco Moodysson)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ulf Brantås

EDITOR: Michal Leszcylowski

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paola Hölmer

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: New Vision

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 18, 2014







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