Managing to find a visual equivalent for Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is an alluring and captivating concept which we were all excited to lay our eyes upon. Top it all up with the building of emotional and at times flirtatious narrative and you’ve got yourself a successful movie. Credits to Erica Mays from Guitar Sumo for helping us brainstorm the crazy ideas that made this movie a reality.
Max Joseph is the director of We Are Your Friends, an attempt at what our heart, minds, and ears want to see and feel in music. The movie is about what it takes to find your voice in an oversaturated market in which music enthusiasts often get lost or lose hope. The action is set in the world of electronic music, and it all starts with Zac Efron as the main protagonist –who stars as Cole.
The leading actor plays a struggling yet aspiring DJ on the Californian EDM scene, and from early on you are let to believe that all you need in music is a laptop, some talent, and one killer track to make it work. Although this may sometimes be the case, the wannabe DJ soon hits the brick of reality and understands that connections are often needed in the industry. Nonetheless, he never gives up, spending his days and nights scheming away with his childhood friends; the plan remains the same: creating emotions in people through the power of music and excellent beats.
While struggling to achieve his dream, Cole, 23 years old, does odd jobs with his high school friends, volatile Mason (Jonny Weston), nerdy Squirrel (Alex Shaffer), and movie-star wannabe Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez). The latter character is prone to doing and selling drugs, where he eventually signs on with Paige (Jon Bernthal). Paige runs a mortgage company that cheats people out of their houses, but no allusion is made to the Wolf of Wall Street or its characters –should you be wondering about it.
Things ultimately get more complicated than once expected, and Cole grows a guilty conscious about these illegal deals. Eventually, his life seems to turn another page once he meets James Reed (portrayed by Wes Bentley), a hard-drinking DJ icon that spots Cole’s potential in EDM. Eventually, he introduces Cole to the right people, and he starts building the connections which could land him bigger and better gigs. During an art gallery party, Cole finds himself slowing down time and observing the people around him gyrating together in a hippie drug induced-like scene meant to portray his volatile state and creative mind.
Not long after, Cole meets Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), which only adds fire to the fuel. Their forbidden friendship intensifies, and his feelings for Sophie start to take over. Eventually, Cole is left with the decision to choose between friendships, love, and the future he was so desperately looking for. Of course, there is no surprise there. No movie is complete without some dramatic tensions that can intensify the plot, especially since a newbie could potentially overshadow all the work put in by veteran James. It doesn’t help that Sophie becomes another element which creates a love triangle. In theory, this could have brought the movie another aspect, but the creators managed to shy away from childish concepts and let Cole and Sophie share their feelings towards each other during a Las Vegas dance festival.
Overall well-directed, despite the minor or significant clichés, “We Are Friends” is both funny and pleasant, showing audiences the increasing struggles of creative artists trying to make a name for themselves. This is an excellent summer movie that has a lightweight drama feel to it. The cast is youthful, vibrant and great-looking, and although there isn’t any dark drama to connect to, it still manages to capture the authenticity of feelings.
What makes We Are Your Friends worth your time is the way in which Joseph manages to captivate the audience and explain the euphoria of EDM in the context of the movie. Yes, the genre did become alive more than 25 years ago, but the filmmakers elegantly combine the perpetual struggle of aspiring artists with the feelings generated by this music genre. Not only does Joseph use the music to move the storyline forward, but it breaks down your preconceived expectations of what the movie would have to offer.
Ultimately, the question remains: does it take luck, talent, or connections? Would the ability to create diverse electronic sounds be enough, or does the mastery of digital composition trump all the previous points? How can artists nowadays be authentic in a world in which nearly everything has already been done?
These are all questions which the movie poses to its audience, and what you end up with is an unexpectedly moving climax, beginning from the initial battle between reality and dreams, and then goals, love, and friendships. All in all, the directors want to reveal that life is similar to gambling, where a series of random choices and actions can lead in either direction. We Are Your Friends keenly observes Cole as a growing character who doesn’t know how to secure or maintain his future or his identity, for that matter.
If you’re looking for an escape from reality, similar to Cole, try one of these top movie-themed games, and enter another world. We can’t guarantee things will be easier, though!