Reviewed by: Hannah Lawrance
There are two things you want from a Zac Efron movie: shirtless scenes and romance – even if you secretly hate the actress he is lusting after (dear Jesus, why didn’t I score gene heaven?). We Are Your Friends without a doubt provided the goods. There were shirtless scenes, my god there were shirtless scenes! Not just of Cole (Efron) but also of his co-stars Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer). There was romance – Em Rata you BABE! And there was love – just to tie those shirtless scene and that romance together.
Set in The San Fernando Valley, Hollywood, the four best friends are destined to make it big, with 23-year-old Cole being their ticket out. He is an aspiring DJ that is determined to create one track that will set the world on fire. And his friends do what they can to help him. One Thursday night at the club where Cole DJ’s and his friends promote, he runs into the damaged and older DJ James (Wes Bentley). They smoke a spliff, take PCP and go to a party; from that moment forth James takes Cole under his wing and scores him an opening spot at an up-coming festival. Cole teaches him about music and rhythm and beats. He teaches Cole about organic noises and fresh sounds. Their relationship gets complicated as Cole falls head over heels for James’ younger girlfriend and assistant, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski).
Their love is forbidden (I know it sounds cliché, but I am all for love) as they are instinctively drawn to each other. At a festival, James gets drunk and leaves Sophie by the Ferris wheel. She calls Cole and they spend the night dancing, singing, and finally…kissing (I was more jealous than when the Victoria Secret Fashion Show comes on the TV).
In reality we would call this “cheating” but because Sophie and Cole are meant to be together (primarily based on hotness alone) mixed with James’ previous indiscretions, we cheer them both on. On James’ birthday he and Sophie come home and once again he is blind drunk. Did I mention he’s damaged? Washed-up and bitter should have been a better description. He and Sophie get into a fight and he takes Cole out to the strippers (charming), but when Sophie calls Cole, James knows they did more than just kiss.
This is where Cole’s life comes tumbling down. He gets kicked out of the festival and on a crazy night his friend Squirrel overdoses and dies. He goes for a run to take out his frustrations and his phone dies. Suddenly, he is tuned in to every single noise around him; the electricity of the generators, the sound of a wind chime, his heavy breathing as he runs. It is only then that everything James has taught him hits him at once.
He apologises to James and earns his spot back at the festival. The movie – his journey – is all brought together as he plays as an opening act. He needed one song. One organic, heartfelt song. Everything he has ever known, heard, and felt, is displayed in his set. The result: a mellifluous performance that gave goosebumps. It’s empowering, it’s empathetic, and it’s alive.
Throughout the movie Cole talks about movement, body language, and getting people to feel a beat. That translates not only to music, but also to how the audience views the movie. The sounds, the humour, the affinity… It was something we all recognised. Just like a beat, we could feel it in our bones, our blood, our head and our heart.
You know those movies that make you want to do something with your life? I’m not talking about Transformers or Harry Potter. I’m talking about those movies that make you feel like you really want to live before it’s too late? It’s a cliché, I know – I’m all about those clichés. But that’s what this movie did. It made me feel like I want to make something of myself. That life isn’t just for existing, it’s for living. All that with side-notes of humour and sex appeal, I would definitely recommend.