In a school lunch-room in Stockholm, 1982, two perfectly-coiffed blondes tell Bobo and Klara that punk is dead. Our heroes immediately cut school and form their own punk band – if only to wrest control of the practice room from the popular older boys’ group Iron Fist. ‘Hate the Sport’ is their first and only track (‘Children in Africa are dying, all you care about is balls flying’). These feisty 13-year-olds bluff and insist their way through each scene, co-opting a third older band member, Hedwig, who is unpopular and Christian but, unlike Bobo and Klara, able to play a guitar. Once they have mohawked Hedwig’s flowing tresses – to her mother’s horror – the rebellious trio is complete.
Lukas Moodysson’s observant and spirited film is based on his wife Coco’s graphic novel. It’s emotionally rich with much operating underneath the surface. A sense of danger constantly lurks: are these girls going to pay for their subversiveness? But this film resists conventional narrative lines, telling its own survivor story, and it’s terrifically funny: if you don’t understand the term ‘man-splaining’ then watch two older male youth workers try to teach the girls how to play their instruments. This hugely uplifting and punk-powered hit will leave you knowing that you, like these defiant misfit Swedish teens from the 80s, are also the best – despite what Iron Fist thinks. — Jo Randerson
“Wonderfully digressive and funny… With fantastic performances by the three leads the film fluidly alternates between the messiness and warmth of female friendship.” — Violet Lucca, Film Comment