Swedish director Lukas Moodysson adapted the script for We Are The Best! with his wife Coco Moodysson from her graphic novel. The result is one of the sweetest coming of age stories I have seen in quite awhile.
Three 13-year-old girls struggle with identity and find a different outlet than their bubblegum and fluffy-haired peers when they decide to form a punk band. The story is set in Stockholm in the early 1980s, but the themes are sure to resonate with a broad audience because of the ubiquity of teenage angst – who really felt like he or she fit in as a teenager? certainly not me – as well as the painful authenticity of conflicts that arise among friends over parents, over shared objects of affection, and over religion and art.
While watching, I couldn’t help but think of another coming of age movie I’ve long admired, Catherine Hardwicke’s exceptionally fine film Thirteen (with Holly Hunter, Evan Rachel Wood, and Nikki Reed).
Both are affecting films, but We Are The Best! depicts a gentler journey into adolescence than Thirteen. This is not a criticism. There is room for both the jarring and the gentle among these stories.
One thing that appeals to me about both films, in addition to telling stories about ordinary girls navigating the difficult teenage waters, is the style. I have a predilection for little stories, slice of life films that feel real and unfold like daily life with some “waiting” mixed into the “hurry up.”
Aristotle may have declared episodic narrative structures the worst, but when finely rendered, this is the form that feels the most natural to me and, that being the case, the most instructive and pleasing with a lasting effect…when finely rendered.