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We Are Your Friends

We Are Your Friends

Released 28 August 2015
Director Max Joseph

Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Wes Bentley, Jonny Weston, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, Jon Bernthal, Alicia Coppola

Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer

Tim Bevan, Liza Chasin, Eric Fellner

United Kingdom, France, United States
Running Time 96 minutes
Genre Drama, music, romance
Rating 16

Eat, sleep, rave, repeat.

A few years ago, Jay Z and Kanye West performed together on the runway of a Victoria Secret fashion show. As they trade rhymes on stage, the camera cuts to backstage where some of the world’s most aesthetically blessed women are poised for the runway in tiny pants and large wings. And then, they dance. Now I’m not saying that beautiful women can’t dance but the sight of them trying to mould their preposterously long limbs into some approximation of rhythmic movement is a hundred times more cringeworthy than an episode of The Office.

Watching people freestyle dance on camera is almost always disastrous. Which is unfortunate for We Are Your Friends - a film about the world of EDM in which the performers endlessly twiddle knobs on laptops with intense looks on their faces and the audience wave their arms above their heads in a vain attempt to look unselfconscious. Our hero is Cole Carter (Zac Efron), a low-level DJ, who dreams of making it big and dragging along his childhood friends. A chance meeting with a superstar DJ James (Wes Bentley) sets him on the road to success but things get complicated when he falls for James’ girlfriend Sophie (Emily Ratjkowski) and struggles to find his sound.

What was quite clear to me from watching We Are Your Friends, is that everyone involved is trying their very best to make a film that captures the transcendent joy of throwing yourself around a dance floor. Writer/director Max Joseph tries several tactics in an attempt to describe this physical sensation via a visual medium. Some work better than others - in particular a sequence that takes us inside Cole’s brain while he is on PCP, which has a pleasantly tactile quality. All in all though, watching somebody DJ is never going to be dynamic and exciting, no matter how many post-production tricks you throw at it.

The performances are all fine but ultimately, the film is a little erratic, wheeling between a sex, drugs and EDM romp and a dour coming of age drama. The juxtaposition of the two is as awkward as Rajatkowski’s “sexy” dancing and perhaps only for the hardcore Efron fans.

- Linda O’Brien