The story of three teenage misfits who form an all-female punk bank, Lukas Moodysson’s “We Are the Best!” is already a critical favorite. (It opens today in New York and Los Angeles, and will be spreading out over the next month.) But few of the reviews capture the spirit of the film as well as the Talkhouse essay by “Save the Date” director Michael Mohan, a self-confessed Moodysson junkie who calls it “a cozy sweater of a film you’re so happy to catch the last 20 minutes of for the hundredth time, and concludes, “If you don’t like it, well then fuck off. ‘We Are the Best!’ Is The Best!”
Mohanm who says “The world is divided into two types of people: you’re either a rabid fan of Moodysson (like myself), or you just haven’t seen his films yet,” finesses or skips outright some of Moodysson’s less lovable films, cramming “A Hole in My Heart” and “Mammoth” into a single half-sentence and omitting “Container” altogether. But he waxes eloquently on “Show Me Love,” “Together” and “Lilya 4-Ever,” and more importantly puts Moodysson’s return to his “natural voice” in the context of a pop-cultural shift towards simplicity and sincerity:
At times, it feels like we’re in a creative drought, the creation of new pop culture being halted in favor of recycling old pop culture. We’re obsessed with repeating past successes instead of looking towards the future. And in a way, it almost feels like cynicism is in the zeitgeist.
But in 2014, the thing I crave the most is genuine human interaction. I think a lot of people feel this way. Vulnerability is the new black. And so in the spirit of punk rock, the only thing we can do is start a new movement where we put ourselves on screen more than ever, and try to have a genuine conversation with our audiences. I do think this is starting — last year alone between “Short Term 12,” “Before Midnight,” “The Spectacular Now,” and “Inside Llewyn Davis,” we had a bumper crop of original heartfelt movies. So this wonderful return to form for Moodysson is hopefully continuing to establish this trend in cinema.
It’s a little dangerous to praise a filmmaker for “returning to form” when that form just happens to coincide with the movies of his that you like, which with Moodysson entails jettisoning a decade’s worth of movies as, essentially, not canon. But then it’s not a surprise Mohan would be especially predisposed to “We Are the Best!” which features a crudely energetic punk ditty whose lyrics go “Hate the sport / Hate the sport / Hate hate hate hate the sport.” (I believe it’s called “Hate the Sport.”) There’s only one song like it in recent movies, and it’s this one: