Friday, March 13, 2015

We Are the Best (Vi ar Bast, 2013) ***1/2

Almost all movies about kids create kid characters who rarely or never existed. They are precocious, hyper-verbal, and self-aware. The coolest thing about the Swedish film “We Are the Best” is how real the kids are. These are genuine 13-year-old girls, silly, sensitive, and confused.

Klara and Bobo are a couple of junior-high punk-rockers, resisting the New Wave movement that says punk is dead. With their spiky hair and disinterest in team sports, they strive to stand out from the flaxen-haired girls at their school. The obvious thing for punk rockers to do, of course, is to form a band. With no musical training, the girls start jamming on the bass and drums at the local youth center, and they make music that is, well, awful! They do manage to capture the essence of punk, however, shouting their lyrics about the idiocy of organized sports. When they add an actual musician; quiet, religious guitarist Hedvig; to the group, they improve their sound slightly and change the dynamic of their little clique.

It could be said that not much of consequence happens in “We Are the Best.” The girls all have acceptable, if imperfect, home lives. Their band doesn't turn into a sensation or anything. The biggest conflict in the film involves two of them liking the same boy. The film succeeds, however, because it recognizes that these seemingly minor events are very big to the girls themselves. When you have never had a boyfriend before, fighting over a boy with your best friend is intense stuff. The actresses do a nice job portraying the emotional swings and fluctuating maturity levels of their 13-year-old characters. It turns out this is not a coming-of-age film. In the end, “We Are the Best” is fun because it shows its protagonists as still being kids, playful, and not quite ready to come of age.

3.5 stars out of 5

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