ENJOYMENT OF MOST teen movies, even the good ones, requires adults to temporarily suspend awareness of some of the things we know that adolescents don't: Your best friend at age 13 probably won't be your best friend at 33. You will regret that haircut. And one day you'll barely remember the name of that singer you were obsessed with, much less the words to every song on her album. Kids, god bless 'em, have no idea their obsessions won't last forever.
Set in Sweden in the 1980s, We Are the Best! is the rare coming-of-age film that makes room for that adult perspective while remaining faithful to the intense, all-consuming passions of adolescence.
Cute, charismatic Klara (Mira Grosin) is an outsider weirdo by choice; her best friend Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) has no other options, trying in vain to twist her short hair into spikes and frowning through her tiny wire-rimmed glasses like a worried owl. Defined by their hairstyles and the bands they like, and convinced punk's not actually dead, the two 13-year-olds decide to start a band, recruiting a pretty guitar-playing Christian to round out their trio. Their punk band is terrible—their first song is about how much they hate their gym teacher—but it infuses the girls with a sense of purpose and focus, even as they squabble over boys and navigate their chaotic home lives.
Any adult watching the film will be acutely aware of how and why Bobo and Klara are acting the way they are: Klara wants attention in a chaotic home; Bobo desperately longs to be accepted for who she is, and is terrified she never will be. But We Are the Best! never condescends, instead offering a realistic look at the things that matter to these passionate, silly, angry young women.