The year’s best Swedish coming-of-age punk rock graphic novel movie adaptation!

We Are the Best!

We Are the Best! stars Liv LeMoyne (Hedvig), Mira Barkhammar (Bobo) and Mira Glosin (Klara).

Movie review – We Are the Best!

Spider-Man, Captain America and the X-Men are all having their moment at the cinema. But there’s another, much less high-profile movie based on a comic book in theatres now.

We Are the Best! is a coming-of-age film from director Lukas Moodysson (TogetherShow Me Love), here adapting Aldrig Godnatt (Never Goodnight), a graphic novel by his wife, Coco.

Much like last year’s Blue is the Warmest Color, We Are the Best! doesn’t make a big deal out of its graphic-novel origins. It’s an understated film that belies its source material only in the episodic nature of the story-telling.

Panel from Coco Moodysson's Aldrig Godnatt

Panel from Coco Moodysson’s Aldrig Godnatt, the graphic novel inspiration for We Are the Best!

Bobo and Klara are two high school friends in mid-80s Stockholm united by their outcast status. One day at their school they stumble onto the chance to make a racket, and do so simply out of spite for the boys who have been teasing them – the boys, who are in a metal band called Iron Fist, are rehearsing in a school multi-purpose room but forgot to sign up for the time. Klara, the ballsy one, pencils in her name and insists it’s hers to use. The ruse works but then, when faced with a bass and a drumkit, the girls are perplexed. “Drums don’t have chords, right?” asks Bobo.

The girls discover they like making noise, especially when they start writing their first song, “Hate the Sport” (there are P.E. issues). But something’s missing, they realize; the final piece of the puzzle falls into place when they see a schoolmate, Hedvig, playing classical acoustic guitar at a school talent show.

These early scenes are especially delightful, as Klara and Bob work out the ins-and-outs of making music and writing songs on their own, and then with Hedvig’s help – it’s Hedvig who alerts them to the concept of playing in key.

Some scenes, like one in which one of the school’s teachers thinks he’s going to show Hedvig how to play guitar, have a whiff of inevitability about them – of course, she’s going to get a chance to show up a (male) adult. At other times, We Are the Best! – with its well-meaning but out-to-lunch adults trying to help out the girls – is reminiscent of Bill Forsythe‘s 1981 Scottish coming-of-age story Gregory’s Girl. Mostly, We Are the Best! is a refreshing take on the coming-of-age music movie, one that is more about friendship and discovering your own voice than it is about music. But the music is pretty cool, too.

Trailer – We Are the Best!

Ostensibly about music, We Are the Best! is really about friendship and self-discovery. And that’s a song everyone can play along with.

We Are the Best! opens May 30 in Vancouver and runs until June 5. Visit viff.org for showtimes and tickets. 

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