Max Joseph from Catfish has made me angry. His directorial debut We Are Your Friends tells the story of a group of young creatives in Los Angeles, struggling to follow their dreams and succeed in today’s society when all we want is more; more impressive films, more dance tunes, everything is expected to be better than the last.
As a drama graduate, I know a lot about the struggling lives of young creative people, just look at everyone from my degree course, and I can see a lot of similarities with the world Joseph has created. Dead end jobs to pay the rent, hopeful connections with big names in the industry, falling down and picking yourself up again. This world, unlike mine however, is music. Specifically DJing in the electronic dance music scene.
So far, so good. There is a lot of premise for this film; finally Hollywood is addressing how impossible it is for young people to get a break in the creative industries. But wait a minute, who’s that playing the protagonist? Oh yeah, Zac Efron, the guy who genuinely broke into acting at the age of two, later gaining success in TV series Summerland before landing in the big bucks with High School Musical. Since then he has never been short of roles.
I am intrigued to know why Efron was chosen for the lead part of Cole. For one, the character is 23 while Efron will be 28 this year. He needs to stop taking all the younger, college guy roles, there won’t be any left for the men who are actually the right age. Two, I don’t believe he has any idea what it’s like to struggle to pursue your dreams. If I watch this film, I won’t be able to suspend my disbelief as I will be constantly aware of his good circumstances, completely unlike Cole. If Joseph wanted to comment on the difficulties for young people today, he should have chosen an unknown actor, or at least a lesser known one, to inject the film with some sense of reality.
Cole gains a lucky break when he meets James, an older, established DJ who becomes his mentor. Complications arise when Cole develops feelings for James’ girlfriend, Sophie, played by Emily Ratajkowski (I understand this is LA but how are there so many good-looking people in this film). From here, Cole is forced to face decisions about his future. It couldn’t be too easy I suppose. However, in a respect, it is very easy. Are they suggesting the only reason Cole might not gain real success is because he fell in love with the wrong girl? I hope I’m wrong. There are thousands of struggling artists across the world waiting for their voices to be heard. Don’t make it look so simple Hollywood. It’s just patronizing. Next time make a film showing what it’s really like, unless I get there first.