Featuring: Mira Grosin, Mira Barkhammar, Liv LeMoyne
Screenwriter/Director: Lukas Moodysson
Verdict: The 13yo lead characters are likeable and elicit sympathetic smirks of recognition with their naivete and teen cynicism, but there’s not enough going on to sustain a feature film.
It’s 1984 and punk is dead, but Stockholm 13-year-old besties Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin) ain’t havin’ none of that. They’re misfits, pissed off with their parents, peers and everything around them, and harbour a sense of black sheep superiority. With credentials like that, they’re made for punk and vice versa, and it’s only a matter of time before they decide to form a band. Neither of them can play an instrument (or write songs, going by their debut ditty slagging off jocks) – but gabba gabba hey, it’s all about the ‘tood!
Fortunately, musical capability arrives in the person of Christian loner and accomplished classical guitarist Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), a shy fellow misfit at their school whom they befriend. Voila – from out-of-step duo with dreams to all-girl punk band!
All fine as far as it goes, but that’s not very far, unfortunately! Add a tribal blooding of Hedvig via a DIY punk haircut from her new friends (insta-punk!), a pinch of boy trouble and a jealousy-fuelled but brief falling out between Bobo and Klara, a first gig debacle that the girls claim as a triumph (and it is, in a punk manner of speaking, with the fledgling band raising the obligatory middle finger to their hecklers and carrying on cacophonously), and a general liberating all round, and there you have it. Smells like teen spirit, is teen spirit, long live rocknroll and that’s about all there is, folks.
It will be enough for some, but the demographic likely to be most receptive (teenies with attitude, 80s punk nostalgia tragics who missed out on punk’s real moment in 76-77, and people who were growing up in 80s Stockholm) is very narrow – so narrow, you wonder about the wisdom of making a feature film out of this very time and place-specific material. Sure, there are coming-of-age universals with which we can all identify (at least, those of us whose bullshit antennae began twitching at 13 and never stopped), and the girls are likeable and mildly amusing in their naivete and teen cynicism, but there’s not enough going on to sustain a feature film. Coulda made a great short.
For other Boomtown Rap movie reviews, see Movie Review Archives