Review: ‘We Are Your Friends’
We Are Your Friends better than the critics are saying
We Are Your Friends centres on Cole Carter (Zach Effron) and his friends Mason, Ollie and Squirrel, as they venture into the club and DJ scene of the San Fernando Valley. It is there they encounter the greatest struggle of young adults: challenging the norm. With some awkward writing but beautiful cinematography and editing over modern techno music, the film is an odd-hit to come out at the end of the summer of CGI blockbusters.
Having worked on MTV’s Catfish, director Max Joseph has a thorough understanding of how modern young adults interact. However, the dialogue felt very forced at times. With women commonly coming up and asking Cole to play “Drunk in Love” in a ditzy voice, or seasoned DJ James Reed saying Cole sounds like a “d-bag.” The screenplay is filled with modern references to how today’s young generation would speak, and it should have worked, but the actors’ delivery was simply too out of place. Despite this, it is easy to root for Cole and his love-interest, Sophie.
Also crediting his time on MTV, Joseph has a very good understanding on how to shoot incredible music videos. He and editor Terel Gibson transition these characters from the hyper-pastel of the daytime, to the hyper-neon of the nightlife with ease. The pair has created a feverish fluidity to the film with techno music overtop fast-paced editing and intriguing cinematography. The scene where Cole and Sophie run through Vegas over Years & Years “Desire” remix is a prime example of Joseph’s hyper-aesthetic style. It helped the film keep an up-tempo pace; rarely losing the audience’s interest.
Despite the stunning cinematography, the film seriously disappointed on it’s opening weekend. It earned just $1.8 Million in over 2,000 theatres, making it one of the worst Box Office openings in film history. Being released over Labour Day weekend lead the movie to lose most of its core audience of college students, as they were heading back to school at that time. It also was very poorly promoted, with little to no promotion at actual EDM festivals like Digital Dreams or Veld. Finally, it was also heavily criticised upon its trailer release for its poor depiction of the DJ lifestyle.
Even with its awkward writing, the film’s energetic soundtrack and striking editing make it an enjoyable watch. We are Your Friends has just enough humour, emotion and likeable characters to invest audiences in this late summer drama.