Party Packing a Punch

We Are Your Friends

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Director: Max Joseph

Cast: Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Shiloh Fernandez, Jonny Weston, Jon Bernthal, Emily Ratajkowski, Alex Shaffer

Taking place during a steaming summer in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, documentary filmmaker turned feature director Max Joseph’s fantastic trance film We are your Friends starring Zac Efron (The Paperboy, That Awkward Moment) as Cole an aspiring DJ who along with his friends are struggling to make ends meet, while attempting to make that one track which all DJ’s become famous for.

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Soon Cole falls under the influence of the much older and debauched DJ, James wonderfully played by Wes Bentley (American Beauty, Interstellar) who introduces him to a more affluent crowd of party goers. James’ assistant is Sophie played by new actress Emily Ratajkowski last seen in Entourage who naturally becomes attracted to the much cooler Cole.

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Yet its Cole’s group of San Fernando buddies which he ultimately falls back on including Ollie played by the gorgeous Shiloh Fernandez (Red Riding Hood, White Bird in a Blizzard) along with the hot-headed Mason played by Jonny Weston (Taken 3, Chasing Mavericks) and the youngest member Squirrel played by Alex Shaffer, which make up his brat pack.

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Hence this foursome form the rather inane title of the film We are your Friends. Look out for a supporting role by Jon Bernthal (Fury, The Wolf of Wall Street) as a morally dubious property tycoon Paige who takes advantage of poor people’s homes moments before foreclosure.

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The crux of the narrative is the predictable yet destructible love triangle which forms between Efron, Bentley and the pouty yet clear-headed Ratajkowski as the action moves from L.A. to Vegas.

We are your Friends is like watching a film during a Trance Party, and as the music is so brilliant and while director Joseph’s stylised direction can be forgiven, it is a wonderful and energetic film to watch clearly aiming at the millennial generation, almost giving the viewers a sense of constantly being in a nightclub.

The stylization both works for and against the film, and is particularly effective during a frenetic scene when James takes the impressionable Cole to an upmarket art exhibition while both tripping on PCP or Angel’s Dust and suddenly the pop art on the walls take on an animated form.

Behind all the debauchery, there is also a flimsy moral lesson which each character has to learn and this gives the film some deeper resonance. In the end, Cole does find that one track that will secure him an impressive debut at the annual Summer Fest, but it’s not sounds generated from his laptop, but rather a more organic experiential track.

We are your Friends is a remarkably interesting film about the art of being a successful DJ and the sacrifices that go with it, within a completely hedonistic environment filled with parties, nightclubs and music festivals. This party film packs a punch reminiscent of the Brett Easton Ellis inspired film, Less Than Zero starring Robert Downey Jr in one of his first major roles.

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We are your Friends will be sure to find a cult audience amongst those born in the 1990’s, with an electrifying performance by the smouldering Zac Efron, who continually lights up the screen with his boyish grin and beautiful blue eyes.

 

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