We Are Your Friends
dir Max Joseph
scr Max Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer
prd Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Liza Chasin
with Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski, Jonny Weston, Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, Jon Bernthal, Alicia Coppola, Wiley M Pickett, Jon Abrahams, Molly Hagan, Brittany Furlan
release US/UK 28.Aug.15
15/US StudioCanal 1h36
We Are Your Friends
The high life: Shaffer, Efron and Weston

bentley ratajkowski fernandez
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
We Are Your Friends There's plenty of youthful vigour in this lively drama about a DJ trying to make a name for himself in the music world. The script is a bit simplistic, pushing real-world struggles aside for movie-style melodrama involving romance, drugs and coincidence. But the bright cast makes it involving.

Cole (Efron) can mix a hot dance track and keep a crowd on its feet, but he hasn't found his voice yet. While working clubs with buddies Mason, Ollie and Squirrel (Weston, Fernandez and Shaffer), Cole meets top DJ James (Bentley), who spots his talent and takes him under his wing. As Cole works out his own sound, he also starts falling for James' flirty girlfriend Sophie (Ratajkowski). Meanwhile, Cole and his pals jobs with a property developer (Bernthal) to earn some cash. But it's not much more above-board than Ollie's drug-dealing sideline.

Life for these young guys is only about music, girls and drugs, and director-cowriter Joseph seems uninterested in adding any complexity to them. Their interaction is energetic and often hilarious, although it's little more than macho swagger, and there are only the briefest glimpses of the real men underneath. Efron gets a chance to develop Cole's darker emotional side along the way, although there's never much context to him as a character. He has a strong conscience in his work, but barely hesitates when it comes to seducing another man's girlfriend.

Ratajkowski has presence but little to do in this mere sketch of a character. And a scene-stealing Bentley is even less shaded as the alcoholic DJ who suspects his best days are behind him. In fact, all of the side characters are underdeveloped, even though the actors add plenty of sparky interest to every scene. And Joseph fills the screen with artistic flourishes, pulsing movement and layered music that nicely capture the energy that swells when a crowd gets into the groove.

Where the story goes, on the other hand, feels rather contrived and obvious. The film stays afloat thanks to Efron's thoughtful performance as a smart guy seeking a way to express himself, unsure whether he's on the right track, as it were. Even so, the screenplay never leaves any room for doubt, so Cole's journey to inspiration and stardom seems almost supernaturally easy. But this is perfect summer entertainment that will give audiences a nice little boost between music festivals.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, drugs 20.Aug.15

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... We Are Your Friends Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall