Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Film review: WE ARE THE BEST!

Directed by Lukas Moodysson  


Sweden is as good a country as any other, but you don’t really expect to see a Swedish film about punk rock. I don’t mean ABBA and I don’t mean Scandinavian metal scene. It’s not that. It is just that unless you are Swedish or a punk rock nerd (beats the purpose), you won’t know Johnny Rotten had any bearing on that part of the world. But of course he did.

The film is set in Stockholm. Bleak and cheerless, depressing snow bogs you down. School sucks, family issues, hair metal on the rise. This is the perfect background for something nasty and exciting to emerge. Enter punk rock. Enter three friends (pre-teen girls) who find themselves at odds with the existing conventions: Christianity, bad music, boredom. Punk may be dead, but they know it isn’t. They know it is alive and well and the sole purpose of their lives. The reason they play it whenever they have a chance, the reason they hate school, the reason their hair has to be so short, the reason they get drunk and fight and fall in love for the first time.

But above all – they start their own band. Obviously, they have no idea how to tune their instruments, they can barely hold them. One girl plays acoustic guitar, and that’s about it. Small triumphs and tragedies along the way, and then we reach the big final scene that in reality is not any bigger than the last chord on David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album. And it doesn't have to be.

Now of course We Are The Best! is not a film about punk rock, even if you get to hear lots of good Swedish music from the period. It is basically a coming of age story and a complete, pointless triumph of idealism. Because idealism is always pointless. But who cares – when you have the music and you have the guts. This film is touching and funny. And maybe a little sad. Because idealism passes. Or does it.

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