Set in the early 1980s, around teenage Swedish punk fans who form their own (really bad) band, it would have been easy to make this a broad comedy, along the lines of “The Bad News Tour”, but it is quite another thing, and one of the most fun films I’ve seen for quite some time.
Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and Klara (Mira Grosin) are best friends at school, and both fans of the Swedish punk scene, already in the dying fag-end of the movement. Only Klara really looks the part, and seems to have caught the bug from her older brother, though he’s now moved on to “rubbish” bands, like Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen (what horror!). Annoyed by the level of noise made in their Youth Club’s music practice room by local wannabe heavy rock band, they are informed that anyone can book the space and, realising that the space has not actually been booked, sign up for it themselves out of spite, despite having no instruments, no songs and no talent. Very punk.
Taking possession of the space, they start messing about with the drum kit and the bass guitar, the only instruments that the Youth Club own and decide to form a band. Rejected from the school’s talent contest for entering too late, they watch the usual dross acts, such as the “girly” girls dance acts and a rather good, but badly out of place, classical guitarist. Shortly afterwards, Bobo realises that this guitarist, squeaky-clean and friendless christian girl Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne), has something they need in their band – actual musical ability – and they set out to recruit her, with the added ‘political’ intent of making her an atheist.
The comedy is excruciatingly embarrassing at time, in the manner of The Office or Parks and Recreation, and the girls’ naive enthusiasm and aching sincerity is both funny and touching. Despite their intention to be anarchic and political, in the manner of their heroes, they are still 13 year old girls, and they do silly things like getting drunk and falling out over boys. And their one and only song, “Hate the Sport”, inspired by not liking PE lessons, is really terrible until, adapted to circumstance, it takes on the true spirit of punk.
A really warm and touching film. Lovely.