Lukas Moodysson has made some terrific films, including Mammoth, Lilya 4-Ever, Show Me Love and his masterpiece (to my mind), Together, which was one of the best films, if not the best film, of 2000. His palette is wide. He can paint in dark, tight colours or let his happier imagination roam, as he has here, in what is, so far this year, one of the most warmly inspiring films, up there with Boyhood for sheer smile-on-your-dial factor. As with that film, We Are The Best! is a feel-good movie when that phrase is not a dirty one.
The very simple story follows two best friends, Bobo and Klara, who decide to form a band. They are thirteen and they don’t know how to play any instruments, but they have passion, verve, outsider status, and the spirit of punk flows through them as though it was their birthright. Both wear punk-influenced haircuts that, besides defining them immediately as the antithesis of their mainly long blonde-haired classmates, this being Stockholm in 1982, also make them look very boyish. Bobo in particular is naturally mistaken for a boy, which is symbolic both of her defiance and her at times painfully acute self-consciousness. Klara is a lot happier in her own skin (and mohawk), but, like all best friends, they need each other to make a whole.
The scenes may seems to meander at times, particularly in the first half, but Moodysson absolutely knows what he’s doing, and everything adds up to the most downright delightful, rewarding, satisfying and thrilling conclusion of any film so far this year. As these girls overcome the challenges of creating something (a band) in the face of nothing (their talent with instruments), along the way realising the need to collaborate, compromise, struggle and learn, Moodysson also manages to tell the story of Everyband in miniature: the creative conflicts, the arguments over who plays what, who’s leading the band, the quest for rehearsal space – even the corrupting influence of romantic relationships. Along the same, the humour – like the humour in Boyhood – grows organically from the characters and our enjoyment of them, so that it becomes funnier and funnier. Like all good films about kids, it has a lot to say about childhood, growing up, and growing wise, but it is also – indeed most powerfully – about creativity and commitment, and how commitment to creativity can form the basis for everything – friendship, self-acceptance, independence, happiness – that is most important in life.