Title: We Are Your Friends
Director: Max Joseph
Writer: Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer, Richard Silverman (story)
Stars: Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Jonny Weston, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, Emily Ratajkowski
Release Date: In cinemas now
Review by Dave Griffiths
I’m pretty sure We Are Your Friends is not the kind of film a critic is supposed to like. But hell I like to be honest so I’ll admit that I loved this film so much that I can’t wait to see it gain. Often films set in the music industry stick to a tried and proven formula and refuse to be edgy… not We Are Your Friends though. This is one film that certainly doesn’t fit comfortably into the realm of your standard commercial film.
Directed by first time feature director Max Joseph the film centres around friends – Cole (Zac Efron – The Paperboy), Mason (Jonny Weston – Insurgent), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez – Evil Dead) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer – The Lifeguard) – who all dream of breaking out of the trashy neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley they call home. While the boys try a number of ways to escape – including club promoting, drug dealing and dodgy dealings – Cole gets a great opportunity to realise his dream of becoming a successful DJ when he meets world famous electronic music artist James (Wes Bentley – The Hunger Games) and his girlfriend/PA Sophie (Emily Ratajowski – Gone Girl).
Sure there are glimpses of films like 8 Mile and One Perfect Day littered throughout We Are Your Friends but the film also brings a newness to the genre. From animation providing the backdrop to a character during a drug trip, to flashy monologues on how to make people dance and a screenplay that pushes the boundaries of how far a film like this should go before it deserves the alternative label there is so much experimentation with film that you can’t help but love it. Without giving too much away this soon becomes a film where the audience just can’t predict what is going to happen next and that makes it a film that you shouldn’t miss.
Some people might be put off by the inclusion of Zac Efron in the cast. Don’t be!!! His High School Musical days are far behind him and as he recently showed with his performance in The Paperboy he has matured into an actor who is more than capable of delivering dramatic performances. Here he is well supported by Wes Bentley who gives his all playing a washed up DJ while Emily Ratajkowski shows that she is more than just the pretty face that we saw in Entourage.
We Are Your Friends is one of the surprise films of 2016 for me. Gritty and not afraid to push the envelope it works from start to finish.