Grabbing their hearts at 128 BPM
Walking into the cinema...
Zac Efron as an electronic dance music DJ, will this film add or take away brain cells?
Overall Rating: 2 stars
Cinematic rating: 2 stars
Bigger questions rating: 2.25 stars
It is a stretch for the average music lover to realise that the life of a DJ (disc jockey) can be more than playing music at the local high school dance. In the world of electronic dance music (EDM), the opportunities only seem limitless when considering potential global stardom and producing their own music. We Are Your Friends is about the life of Cole Carter (Zac Efron), a young DJ who is striving to break into the EDM club scene. Cole and his crew of friends work various jobs to try to make ends meet in the San Fernando Valley in California, while hoping to do something bigger with their lives. Throughout their various attempts to get a step up in life and to assist Cole in making a name for himself in the club scene, he does finally get a break. Through a chance meeting with an established DJ, James Reed (Wes Bentley), who is willing to give the young prodigy an inside track into the world of bigger picture of the disc jockey. Being caught between the worlds of the San Fernando Valley and the life of the rich and famous, Cole has to work out where he is willing to place his loyalties and his future. The tension that pulls his life in multiple directions is how to stay connected with his crew, to consider the advantages of his mentorship with James and determining if he is willing to scrap it all for a relationship with Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), who happens to be James' girlfriend. In this young DJ's life, he has to make his decisions and see where the path leads him.
After seeing the film, the question that first came to mind is, 'what is the acceptable length of a music video?' Through music and well choreographed sequences, new director Max Joseph attempts to provide an all access pass to this side of the music industry and provide insights into the world of the electronic dance music. Even though there are brief moments of well-timed scripting, creative cinematipgraphy and glimpses of character development in We Are Your Friends, this production never seems to rise above a finely orchestrated music video. Also, Max Joseph does not allow the audience to forget that this is Zac Efron’s film. He is in every scene, but is never allowed to develop his character beyond a singular dimension of life as a DJ. Cole is surrounded by a wealth of supporting personalities, but the script and acting leaves Efron disengaged from each relational possibility. Whenever there seems to be a pathway to deeper considerations, something else distracts him. His troupe of lost boys provide the necessary spirit that should balance out the Cole Carter character's lack of enthusiasm, but in the end they become mere caricatures of the California scene. This cast of characters do offer promising components that could lead to complexity within this drama, such as the entourage of young hooligans and the relationship between Cole and James, but these promising moments never move beyond the superficial. James (Wes Bentley) provides a glimmer of maturity and even tries to move toward the profound mentor role, but is relegated to quippy one liners and only 'the means to and ends' for Cole’s disc jockey dreams. His dream proves to be empty and wasted on a life of alcohol, drugs and broken relationships. The script provides minimal dialogue and is reliant on the visual appeal of the actors and the California scenery, which is not enough to pull this above an MTV style docudrama. Ultimately, this film is for the person who desires to look at pretty people gyrating to electronic music. We Are Your Friends develops into an ecclesiastical adventure that shows that life is merely a vapour or at least life is relegated to being one music tract that is pumped out at 128 BPM (beats per minute), but all is meaningless because this film has no heart.
This coming of age film epitomises the hedonistic lifestyle of a generation. ‘If I can find that one thing, if I can get that one break or if only people would see me for the talent that I am, then everything will be good.’ So much of this story is encapsulated in the wisdom book of Ecclesiastes. Showing that there truly is nothing new under the California sun. Even if people are able to get that ‘one thing’ that will make the difference in their lives, can they be satisfied with what has been given to them. Is that one thing, that one moment or maybe that one person enough or is there always going to be something more to strive to achieve? It is one of the challenges of the human condition to ask when is enough, enough? The answer to this question is found in the twelfth chapter of the aforementioned book of wisdom. Looking through its pages there is a golden nugget of truth that provides the answers to these and more of life’s bigger questions.
Leaving the cinema...
There were no surprises. It was a pretty film with an empty message. It can be compared to the bag of lollies that were enjoyed during the film. Short lived satisfaction with no value at all, except regret that you ate the whole thing.
Reel Dialogue: What are some of the bigger considerations from this film?
Read Ecclesiastes to see what is meant by the statements: There is nothing new under the sun, life is a vapour and to find the golden nugget of truth in chapter 12.
Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews #wayf