We Are Your Friends (2015)
The World Is
Cole Carter (Zac Efron) is a 23-year-old aspiring DJ who, along with his tight-knit group of friends — Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer) — dreams of breaking out of his hometown in the San Fernando Valley, north of the Hollywood Hills. However, a chance meeting with an older, successful, but broken DJ, James Reed (Wes Bentley), and his girlfriend Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), spins Cole onto a path that challenges what he really desires, having to choose between love, loyalty and his music career.
Truth be told, the first twenty or so minutes of We Are Your Friends really feels as though it were made by someone who loved the HBO television series Entourage (2004) a little too much and distilled their film into a mix of douchebags, bimbos and parties. Thank goodness there’s a bit more to We Are Your Friends than simply just the aforementioned.
If you’re willing to get past that initial section, you’ll find that We Are Your Friends is a ‘grower,’ one that actually does get better and better as it prods along. A large part of this is testament to the compelling presence of Wes Bentley, The Hunger Games (2012), the allure of Emily Ratajkowski — who coincidentally also starred in this year’s Entourage (2015) movie — and most of all, the superb central performance of Zac Efron, That Awkward Moment (2014), who often conveys so much with a simple glance.
On the subject of ‘looks,’ the whole film possess the qualities of a modern, glossy travel advertisement and I actually mean that in the best possible way — visually, it’s mostly about eternal summer sunsets and amber-hued nights, as if it all existed within a shared dream. If viewers don’t find themselves the least bit charmed by the San Fernando Valley by the flick’s conclusion, I’d say they probably fell asleep at some point during the movie or perhaps prefer snowy mountains.
The journey presented here isn’t terribly new or unpredictable — see the 2004 Australian film One Perfect Day — and the abrupt exit of an undeveloped character lacks the impact it tries to make, but there is something to the feature’s atmosphere that becomes quite infectious, that it ultimately doesn’t really matter.
A keen observation about ‘How to Work a Party’ — choosing and mixing music — is a particular highlight and the ending, though hardly surprising, is a beautifully cathartic moment centered on a passionate song debut by Cole — a catchy track put together by French artist Pyramid. It’s sequences like these, interspersed amongst the electronica driven score and quieter character moments that really make We Are Your Friends feel worthwhile.
We Are Your Friends is director-co-writer Max Joseph’s confident feature film debut and I have to admit, I’m very curious to see what he does next. His previous work has mostly consisted of short documentaries under the banner of Good, focusing on social issues such as education and immigration — Good: Education (2008) for instance. This displays that Joseph has quite the inquisitive mind, one that may lead onto great dramas.
‘Are we ever gonna be better than this?’ Squirrel asks Cole at one stage of We Are Your Friends. For Max Joseph, I think he will be.
3 / 5 – Good
Reviewed by Steve Ramsie
We Are Your Friends is released through Studio Canal Australia