When it rains cinematic love letters to the electronic dance music scene, it pours.
We Are Your Friends arrives shortly after Eden, Mia Hansen-Love’s autobiographical account of shattered dreams set against the backdrop of the 1990s French music scene.
While that film expertly mixed style and substance with a pulsating soundtrack from the era, director Max Roberts’ present-day soap opera taps its foot to a more predictable beat in the sun-baked San Fernando Valley.
According to the film’s narrator, this unfashionable stretch of Los Angeles County has a thriving pornography industry, airhead blondes and the best sushi in California.
It’s also a playground for dreamers , wannabe musicians, actors and DJs hoping to be talent-spotted on the other side of the Hollywood sign and offered their one-way ticket to fame and fortune.
It’s a pungent setting for Roberts and co-writer Meaghan Oppenheimer to explore the frailty of a get-rich-quick generation.
The film starts promisingly, bombarding the screen with snazzy visuals
We Are Your Friends has a smattering of grit, including scenes of drug-taking plus a senseless tragedy that is telegraphed in neon lettering, but the sweetness and sentimentality of this bro-mantic fairytale is overpowering.
Zac Efron plays Cole, a 23-year-old DJ who lives in the valley with buddies Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer).
One night at a club, Cole meets big money making, EDM demi-god James Reed (Wes Bentley).
James takes the twinkly-eyed upstart under his wing and grants Cole 24-hour access to his recording studio.
As the newcomer hones his craft, he kindles an attraction with James’ younger girlfriend, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), which threatens to spark an affair.
The film starts promisingly, bombarding the screen with snazzy visuals, but after this initial rush of blood to the head, Roberts reveals the deeply conventional heart beneath the film’s shiny exterior.