Film review: We Are Your Friends - Zac Efron spins a synthetic tale
Not even Efron’s efforts can save us from the ennui of the DJ babble that pervades a largely forgettable flick
Max Joseph’s excitable dance-music drama has more obstacles to overcome than its put-upon protagonist: Zac Efron’s rookie DJ Cole Carter. Efron (Neighbours) is still transitioning from pin-up to proper actor, and love interest Emily Ratajkowski (Gone Girl) is even further down the ladder. Plus, with endless talk of BPM and EQ levels, DJ-ing is – at best – inherently uncinematic and, at worst, dull as a dust cover.
Carter and his wrong-side-of-the-tracks cohorts (lead by Jonny Weston) scrape a living promoting club nights in the San Fernando Valley, an LA backwater famous, we’re told, for two things: sushi and porn.
After falling in with world-weary superstar DJ James (Wes Bentley) and his girlfriend/PA, Sophie (Ratajkowski), Carter has a chance to leave it all behind – well, at least the sushi. Can he stay true to his roots while rocking the Hollywood Hills?
To keep the party going, Joseph throws in every MTV tic imaginable: slow-motion bikini shots, shouty intertitles, and an animated drug scene that’s almost hallucinatory in its terribleness.
Amid the pool-jumping and pill-popping, some adult themes emerge – the futility of fame, the brutality of the housing crash – but the film is more comfortable leering at Ratajkowski in a way that practically constitutes workplace harassment than actually dealing with them.
Though made with what James might call an “acute sense of assembly”, it’s still furiously forgettable. Efron does his best, the supporting cast, particularly Bentley, are hard to fault, and it’s not short of energy. Trouble is, like everything else in the film: it’s synthetic.
We Are Your Friends opens on October 8