After more than a decade of misfires, arthouse oddities and bleak personal projects, Swedish writer-director Lukas Moodysson finally (and perhaps grudgingly?) returns to the sparky, indie-comic tone of his best-loved films ‘Show Me Love’ and ‘Together’. ‘We Are the Best!’ is a joyous celebration of youth, friendship and rebellion, and if there’s a nagging note of regret and bitterness it never manages to undermine the overwhelmingly compassionate tone.
This is a film of flawless, natural performances, particularly from the three young leads. It’s 1982, and Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin) are best friends, bolshy 13-year-old outsiders whose love of punk leads them to form their own band. There’s only one problem – they don’t have a guitarist. Enter Abba-esque Christian blonde Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), the most unlikely axe heroine on the planet.
Moodysson’s sense of place, period and character is incredibly surefooted, and there’s boundless joy to be found in watching Bobo and Klara make their thunderously confident first steps towards punk superstardom. It’s hardly original material – much of the humour relies on our familiarity with high-school movie clichés – but the brisk script and effortless performances lend freshness.
In the second half a darker tone creeps in – boys get involved, with potentially band-shattering consequences – and here the film feels just a little less convincing, a little more forced. But it all comes together for a rousing, punch-the-air finale, and one of the finest end-credits gags in recent memory.