We Are Your Friends

Directed by Max Joseph
Starring Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Shiloh Fernandez, Jonny Weston, Alex Shaffer, Jon Bernthal and Wes Bentley
We Are Your Friends is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD

by Joanna Orland

We Are Your Friends attempts to be the iconic music movie of the 21st century, but with its predictable narrative, cliche characters and EDM soundtrack, it wouldn’t be out of place having been set (or made) in the 1990’s.

Zac Efron is on good form in this EDM coming-of-age story as Cole, a budding DJ who lives in San Fernando who spends his time with his three best mates Mason, Ollie and Squirrel. Cole befriends superstar DJ James Reed (Wes Bentley) who becomes his mentor / nemesis as Cole begins to fall in love with Reed’s personal assistant / girlfriend Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski).

Besides striving for fame through his music, Cole along with his friends hold down a soul-destroying day job calling people who’ve defaulted on their mortgages, offering them a way out at a high price. Jon Bernthal plays his morally ambiguous wealthy employer and is a highlight of this film with his brash performance, in spite of being a redundant character with an unnecessary subplot.

The characters and narrative of We Are Your Friends is very bro heavy. The EDM culture has been known for its predominantly male demographic, and this film reinforces this culture. Even the substantial female role of Sophie is used to further the male story arc as she is developed more as a catalyst rather than a character, her sole purposes being the object of Cole’s lusty desires, and the incendiary that leads Cole and James to develop a rivalry. Females in general are very much objectified in this film, but considering that the EDM culture also promotes this imagery and ideal, it’s hard to fully fault the movie for depicting it as such. It is a shame that it doesn’t challenge this real world narrative, or even the viewer by any means as it strays into the melodramatic while portraying its predictable and overplayed narrative.

Attempting to be the Saturday Night Fever of EDM, We Are Your Friends is lacking the substance to be as iconic or enduring. But that’s not to say that this film isn’t enjoyable. Zac Efron can really carry a film whether it be teenybopper musical (High School Musical), bleak drama (The Paperboy, At Any Price), comedy (Bad Neighbours) or this archetypal coming-of-age music industry tale. In his initial days as a teen idol, I never did see this coming – he has the potential to be the enduring Tom Cruise movie star of his generation. I look forward to seeing more from him and hope he begins making wise and diverse role choices.


Leave a Reply