Posted under: Reviews
There's a certain magic to youth; going out, living life and having fun. That's exactly what's at the heart of Max Joseph's feature-length directorial debut We Are Your Friends. However, rather than a wild night out, this movie feels more so like the morning after: sick, tired and regretting the night before.
Zac Efron plays Electronic Dance Music DJ Cole Carter, 23 year olds and aspiring to make an impact on the dance scene and becoming a major record producer - but ultimately struggling and not getting much further than a few occasional gigs. However, things become to change when an older, more renowned DJ James (Wes Bentley) notices his talents and decides to take Cole under his wing and mentor him. Realising that there may be more to life than just partying all-night, Cole begins to grow not only as a musician but as a person too. With his friends Mason (Johnny Weston), Squirrel (Alex Shaffer) and Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) at his side, and a romance blossoming with his mentor's daughter Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), he is soon led to join the world as an adult and make some tough decisions along the way - realising that things may not be all that they seem.
Mostly known for his work on the TV show Catfish, Max Joseph makes his first foray into feature-length directing with We Are Your Friends. At its heart, it's a fun-spirited, free will tale of love, friendship and coming to terms with the real world. On its face though, it's a bland and contrived piece of work that feels more so tedious than it does energetic. The upbeat adrenaline in the music video and dance montages doesn't transcend to the story itself, nor the heart of the film. The drama falls flat too, mostly due to the fact that we simply do not care for these characters. The dialogue is mawkish and the viewer feels no attachment to them, due to just how unlikeable and one-dimensional everyone is. If there's one character that we do somewhat empathise with, it's Cole.
The performances themselves aren't too bad. Efron effervescently brings our protagonist to life. He is endearing and there's a nice rawness and relatability to the character of Cole and the struggles he faces in wanting to make it chase his dreams and make big in as tough an industry as music. There's a nice message there too, for all the adolescents viewing the picture in that you can accomplish anything and you can reach your dream, as long as you persevere and work for it. Bentley turns in a nice performance as James, even if his character is radically unbelievable and bland. Ratajkowski also adds some charisma to an otherwise deadpan female lead too. And, despite some horrid dialogue from them, there's a nice, real brotherly chemistry between Efron, Weston, Shaffer and Fernandez.
There are some positives to this film though. For starters, the message is a poignant and rather important one - especially for the audience this film targets. The cinematography is pretty stunning too, capturing the essence of youthful living really well. In fact, the youthful aspect of We Are Your Friends is its best - fun and wild. The parties, the dances, the music is all entertaining and the approach to putting the viewer inside the mind of a DJ is creative and unique. However, unfortunately, this isn't enough to elevate what is, for the most part, a rather dull film. The writing is awful, especially the nauseating dialogue and the premise is so convoluted and messy and all over the place. It's, in a way, similar to a bad soundtrack, with the occasional pretty decent track coming up every now and then between the rest of the poorer ones.
Whilst it has its moments, We Are Your Friends never quite feels complete and, instead, is a tedious, convoluted film not quite sure of itself - kind of like the drunk, dazed teens portrayed in this film.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.