We Are Your Friends is a 2015 R-rated musical drama directed by Max Joseph in his directorial debut and written by himself and Meaghan Oppenheimer, based on a story by Richard Silverman. The film stars Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Wes Bentley, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, and Jonny Weston. The film follows Cole Carter, a struggling 23-year-old DJ in the (EDM) electronic dance music scene, who meets and becomes the apprentice of an older DJ, simultaneously falling in love with his mentor’s girlfriend. Being the psytrance lover that I am, this film was fun to watch and see the process into building a track and a name for yourself, since there aren’t many DJ films out there; but for a Hollywood version, I have to say I’m impressed. When it comes to EDM you’d expect a European take on it, so when I read it was going to be American I immediately thought about all the comercialism that it could go through (like the title), but it’s not so present. Go watch the first trailer they released. It’s pretty good; and like the trailer, so is the film.
I’m surprised how better it was than I thought it would be. From watching the trailer, we see a good-looking guy as an aspiring DJ, with the whole party scene, the promoting, the drinking and popping pills. Oh, and the pretty girl who we know he will fall in love with. As mentioned before, since there aren’t many DJ and/or electroninc music films out there, the sight and idea of the girl, had me worried that they would focus more on her and love, rather than the art of making EDM. Although they did mix romance into the film, it nevertheless was a success for what it represents: friends, hardships, work, decisions and doing what makes you happy.
The cinematography was amazing with good lighting, which is important especially for a directiorial debut and so was the audio. It’s an EDM themed film, so you’re gonna be hearing a lot of it, within many scenes. There’s no heavy theme of drugs and their effects, but there is one short hallucination which looks awesome.
It was nice to see a humble Efron instead of being self-centered (or a dick) like he previously was in Neighbors. Yes he’s good-looking but you’d be surprised if I told you that he only takes off his shirt once, and I thank the director/writers for that. I tip my hat off to Jonny Weston. The first time I saw him was in Project Almanac (2015). From that to this, wow. This guy has a bright future as a versatile actor. Wes Bentley gave a good performance as Cole’s mentor and the older arrogant DJ, James Reed. I enjoyed the chemistry between them two til the end.
What brings this film to life is two things. Number one, of course, the music. The songs are quite catchy if you’re into EDM and their presence give you a good feeling. For a 1hr 40m film, it felt much longer, almost 2 hours long and I think it’s because of the ups and downs of the songs that keep you going. While the magical number mentioned in this film is 128 bpm, that said is exclusively for EDM. Since I love psytrance I delve in bpm ranging between 140 and 150, and the occasional 170s when I listen to HiTech trance, but that’s an acquired taste and not for the faint-hearted. Number two, the editing. My favorite collaboration of scenes and song is the final one. In fact, the movie won my heart with that last scene before the credits. Did you feel that? It is that music high (goosebumps!) that we love experiencing when listening to energetic tracks and that last scene portrayed it so well, especially with the voices. It is that raw invincible feeling that you can’t ever get enough of, but when you do, nothing else matters.
Overall, despite the movie not doing so well in theatres (although making the triple of its budget), I enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone.
Thanks for reading my review!
– Nick Andersen