Deft punk: We Are the Best! a rollicking coming-of-age tale

“Endearing” is not a term usually applied to punk music, but the funky, punky, award-winning comedy/drama We Are the Best! (Vi ar bast!) boasts an endearing lead trio played by Mira Grosin, Mira Barkhammar and Liv LeMoyne – all making their (auspicious) screen debuts here.

Adapted from Never Goodnight, a graphic novel (read: comic book) by his wife Coco Moodysson, writer/director Lukas Moodysson brings to life the time and place and attitudes of early-1980s Stockholm, where teenagers Klara (Grosin) and Bobo (Barkhammar) decide to form their own punk band – a novelty being that they’re girls.

Having their ambitions mocked only fuels their determination and, indeed, their rebelliousness. Klara and Bobo recruit Hedvig (LeMoyne), a timid classmate but a talented guitarist, to round out their trio – yet this comes with complications in the form of Hedvig’s disapproving, pious mother (Ann-Sofie Rase). (How Klara talks their way out of this issue is one of the film’s highlights.)

The girls do their utmost to muster the appropriate punk attitude among themselves – starting, naturally, with their hairstyles — yet there’s still an innocence and a charm to their aspirations. They want to be rebellious, but they’re not quite sure how. (Not only are the songs they write and perform hilarious in their own right, but also offer a savagely subtle dig at punk music in general.)

The three leads bring a natural, unaffected, and even awkward grace to their roles. Each actress is distinctive in her appeal. Grosin’s wide-eyed reactions and double-takes are smoothly balanced by Barkhammer’s poker-faced determination (which masks a palpable streak of self-doubt) and LeMoyne’s quiet inner strength. They’re a beguiling team. In the end, the girls grow up a bit … but they’ve still got a long ways to go. Their journey, really, has just begun. (In Swedish with English subtitles)

We Are the Best! is scheduled to open Friday at a/perture cinema, Winston- Salem. ! LOG ONTO — click on the “Flicks” section. Then go to “What’s Showing”