WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS
By Darin Skaggs
If there is ever a better time to use the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” for a movie it is for the Zac Efron is a DJ, coming-of-age story directed by Max Joseph, the cameraman from the televised version of Catfish. All that backlash bait is crammed together in a nearly hour and a half delight which makes for a movie about creating music and art in general and how no matter who we are, where are decisions bring us we all find hope, passion and love in each other.
We Are Your Friends stars Efron as Cole, an aspiring DJ who spends most of his time DJ-ing for small clubs and hanging out with his best friends, Mason (Jonny Weston) the sex hungry wannabe tough guy, Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) the aspiring actor and successful drug dealer and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer) the mellow friend who has the most words of wisdom to offer, as they talk about their dreams to get out where they came from and make it big. During a smoke break after a night of cold events leaving him in doubt of his future, Cole runs into a successful DJ named James (Wes Bentley), a performer Cole once looked up to and now thinks is just a sellout playing what the people want to hear. James invites Cole to a party which leads to a world of partying, a musical partnership between the two and romantic connection to James’ girl.
Like the title suggest, the movie is about friendship, but mostly how Efron’s relationships inspire his music. The characters are not all likable, which is fully intentional, but how these people work together, talk together and fight together is what makes this film flow so well. There is no unnecessary drama that comes out of nowhere from these characters. The film creates these characters and sticks with who they are. Big dramatic plot points happen, but it fits with who we know these characters to be. For all that they do wrong and immoral the movie never judges them, it just says “This is who they are.” It also never lets these people off the hook for their bad behavior. The actors play these friends so well, Efron constantly shooting out stellar performances.
We Are Your Friends never takes itself too seriously nor is it trying to be too funny. It respects music and especially EDM, a genre that makes many roll their eyes when ever mentioned. It also pokes fun at music in general like in a scene where characters are listening to what Cole has created and all we see is everyone awkwardly sitting and staring off into the distance. It finds a nice balance of humor and drama that makes for a really good movie.
This is an excellent directorial debut for Joseph that happens to look beautiful cinematically, finding beauty in even the uglier parts of Los Angeles. It also finds admiration and humanity in characters that others are likely to judge with their first impression.