Coming of age


Just finished watching We Are the Best! with my 12-year-old.   Subtitled Swedish film about three 13-year-old misfits who form a punk band in the early 80s, and — even though on the surface it’s about punk, and rebellion and anarchy — probably one of the sweetest movies I’ve seen in years.

Fun to watch with Emma, who was game despite the subtitles.  It helped that the movie is, I think, really just a coming of age story about three good female friends.  There isn’t much story — a rival band, a minor romantic subplot with the boys in another band.  But the characters are so warm, naturalistic and naive (in the best possible way) that it’s impossible not to love them.

There’s never very much at stake, but you feel invested anyway.  And when it’s over, you feel happy to have spent time with these girls.  I’m sure some of that has to do with the actors, and with the director for coaxing these performances out of them.  But a lot of it is just the goofy and almost impossibly endearing contrast between punk-style anarchy and the coming-of-age story.  It’s like a Swedish Catcher in the Rye with teenage girls, punk haircuts and songs about the oppression of gym class.  And that’s a beautiful thing.

About the author

Tom Howard

Tom Howard is the author of Fierce Pretty Things (Indiana University Press, 2019).

He received his MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Fierce Pretty Things won the 2018 Blue Light Books Fiction Prize, and his individual stories have won the Ninth Letter Literary Award in Fiction, the Indiana Review Fiction Prize, the Robert and Adele Schiff Award for Fiction, the Carve Magazine Prose & Poetry Contest, the Tobias Wolff Award in Fiction, the Innovative Short Fiction Prize, the Willow Springs Ficiton Prize, the Rash Award in Fiction, and the Robert J. DeMott Award for Short Prose.

He lives with his wife in Arlington, Virginia.

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By Tom Howard


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