IF you want to see a bogus, bollocks feminist film, watch Free the Nipple.
But if you want to see the real thing…a really empowering, touching story, then check out We Are the Best!
IT’s in Swedish.
So you’ll have to use your brain.
And your eyes.
Unless you speak Swedish.
But it will be well worth your time.
Vi är bäst! isn’t trite acting from a bunch of pseudo-provocateurs who just want to take their shirts off.
This is the story of three 13-year-old girls.
None of them fit in.
Everyone tells them they’re ugly.
One of them is ostracized for being a Christian.
[now THAT’S punk!]
But it’s the story of three girls who come together and do the greatest thing possible: form a band.
And let me just say this: the acting is fucking fantastic!
Mira Barkhammer plays Bobo.
For me, she is the star of the film.
She is the outcast of the outcasts.
No make up.
No cool haircut.
She’s searching for her identity.
But she’s so smart. So truly unique!
She wears these little wire-rim glasses.
From one perspective, this film is her search for what’s behind the mirror.
Director Lukas Moodysson made a masterpiece here.
I think of Boris Diaw.
The whole scenario is aw-kward.
But so beautifully so!
And yet Bobo is not perfect.
Far from it.
It’s a team effort.
And teams, especially when they are ad hoc and organic, are inherently dysfunctional.
The actress who puts the dys in dysfunction here is Mira Grosin.
But she too is so wonderful in this film!
She is the inspiration.
The first one out on the limb.
She inspires her other two bandmates to fly their freak flags high.
But the most enigmatic is Liv LeMoyne: the Christian.
Director Moodysson is so deft in his handling of this dynamic.
LeMoyne’s character [Hedvig] has long, beautiful blond hair.
[At this point it is appropriate to address a strange form of class relations in Sweden: hair color.]
When I used to think of Sweden (which I did rarely), I would imagine everyone as a blond.
Perhaps the American vision of Sweden is a socialist paradise of blond bikini models.
At the very least, blondness seems to be the defining characteristic in the American popular imagination regarding Sweden (as far as I can tell).
This isn’t a scientific study, you understand…
But it is important to point this out.
The snottiest (in the stuck up, snobbish sense) characters in this film are mostly blonds.
The little girls who call Bobo and Klara [Grosin] ugly.
It is really heartbreaking.
These two BRUNETTE girls endure such humiliation throughout this film.
And so it’s no wonder that they want to start a PUNK BAND!
But they can’t play.
Like, not at all…
Their first halting efforts are in the vein of The Shaggs.
And that’s where the Christian comes in.
Hedvig is an accomplished classical guitarist.
It is, indeed, much like the story of Garth Hudson’s joining The Band.
So to speak.
Bobo and Klara are astounded at Hedvig’s talent.
They lament that they’ll never be as good as their gifted new friend.
But Hedvig is all encouragement.
It is [pardon the expression] a match made in heaven.
And so three misfits (for different reasons) band together (literally) and take on the cock rock ridiculousness of bullies like youth-center-rehearsal-room-“stars” Iron Fist.
The message is astounding.
I haven’t seen a film which does such honor to the idea of feminism since 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.
But there’s no ulterior motive here.
This isn’t a George Soros production.
This is the real thing.
Just three young people (who happen to be female) wanting to make some noise in their world.
And we see how beautiful punk music is.
IT’s a catharsis.
Like Sonic Youth.
And we remember the true geniuses of the genre (like my hero, the late Alan Vega).
But we also remember the maxim: “three chords and the truth”.
Hedvig’s got the chords.
[Ah…harmony! What a concept!!!]
But Klara has the attitude.
And Bobo has the intellect.
They learn from each other.
“Here. Stay on this note. Good. Now move to this note.”
“Punk is about rebellion. It’s not about the school talent show. We’ve got to keep going. It’s a fight.”
“You really need to change your hair. Do something fun! Express yourself! Cut loose!”
Those are my translations of action, not dialogue.
But I can’t stress enough how great these three actresses are in this film.
Mira Barkhammer in particular is a prodigy.
But, as in the story, the trio is inseparable.
And for this kind of cohesion, we have but one place to look in thanks: the auteur.