Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Movie Review: We Are The Best!

Long time no see, dear reader. I'm going to skip my usual "hey guys I know I haven't posted in X weeks/ months/ years and I'm really sorry, I've just been really busy" spiel and jump right into this post. As always, obligatory SPOILER WARNING. I'll try my best to spoil as little as possible. It's not like there are any Usual Suspect caliber plot twists in this indie drama.

We Are The Best! is a Swedish-Danish film released in 2013 about three 13 year old girls who start a punk band in 1980s Sweden. It's based on director Lukas Moodysson's wife's semi-autobiographical graphic novel Never Goodnight. If that isn't enough to convince you to watch this movie, then I don't know if we can call ourselves friends anymore. On a more serious note, We Are The Best! follows two adolescent punks, Klara and Bobo as they stumble their way through school, home life, starting their first band, and generally being young, angst-ridden kids. Klara and Bobo start their band solely out of spite of a group of teenagers at their local youth center, and despite not knowing how to play any instruments, fall in love with the idea of playing in a band.

What this movie captured perfectly is the idea of being a young kid with something to say and finally finding a legitimate outlet for it. Klara and Bobo are written like true 13 year olds, where they know that they're young, angry, and want to take down The Man, but they're not quite sure what their fighting against, what the real facts are, or what causes they should really support. They don't know shit, but they don't care because they're too wrapped up in being passionate about something for the first time. Once they get hooked on making loud, incoherent noises and writing angsty, terrible punk lyrics they find a girl in the year above named Hedvig to round out their trio so they can start writing some real music. Hedvig is an outsider at school too, but she plays some mean classical guitar, so the girls befriend her to use her expertise to help them along musically. Also, something to note: I'm not sure if the actresses were 13 years old at the time of filming or older, but either way, they're young and they don't suck. They're actually pretty solid actresses. Hollywood, take notes. This is how you should cast children and adolescents in your movies.

Something you'll notice quickly in We Are The Best! is that the movie isn't really about punk music or punk culture. It's mostly about what it's like to be a young teenager and how they live their lives in a constant hyperbole. Finding an outlet for your feelings in the form of a band is the greatest thing in the world, this cute guy you just met is making you go head over heels in love, and getting into a mundane argument can be the absolute irreconcilable end between you and your best friend. And in typical teenage fashion, these major life-or-death crises blow over in a matter of hours or days. It's these dynamics between the three girls that makes this movie fun to watch, because deep down, you knew you were that bad when you were younger. Sure, if you're into punk or hardcore, it may feel nostalgic to see a couple of kids learn to play their instruments and fall in love with music, and stick their middle fingers up to the world just like you did, but even if you never went through a phase like that (like your's truly), there's still plenty to love here. A small detail that I loved was that almost all of the music played by Klara, Bobo, and Hedvig looked and sounded like it was recorded live on location. You can hear all the little nuances of recording on location, where everything you see matches up perfectly with what you hear. Nobody is randomly mashing their fingers on a guitar with a totally different track being played over top. It's nothing too big but in most movies, including movies about music, they just throw in some studio recordings so they don't need to teach the actors how to actually play the instrument being played on screen.

So there you go. We Are The Best! is definitely one of the best movies I've seen in months, with the only other being December's The Imitation Game. This movie is legitimately fun to watch, no matter who you are. It's adorable, genuine, and to top it off has one of the most punk as fuck endings I've seen in a movie. You can find it on Netflix (the Canadian version at least), which is where I found it, and I'm sure your local movie store carries it too if you feel like spending some cash.

That's all for now, folks! Go out and start a punk band with your friends.