|Zac in a tank. He spends most of the movie in a tank.|
|...but this is what the movie is selling.|
Truth be told, We Are Your Friends isn't really that bad. And don't judge me too harshly. Even the Hollywood Reporter called it "surprisingly winning". Early on I thought Max Joseph was going to be doing something cool. There's a very fun sequence where Zac does PCP and hallucinates at an art gallery opening and the whole thing gets animated à la Richard Linklater's Waking Life. It's really fun.
But the film has two other little formal conventions that it does sporadically that both totally suck. Both are from YouTube. One involves putting the text of the film in giant capital letters onscreen as a character (in this case Jon Bernthal's version of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross) talks. It's designed like a lyric video to, say, Cee-Lo Green's "Fuck You". The other involves illustrating an educational sequence about the science of the desire to dance using tiny clips from stock footage to explain how, say, the heart beats and where the impulse to dance comes from, and how many beats per minute Reggae and House and Hardcore each has. Am I watching a movie or a YouTube video by ASAPscience?
Still, there's the EDM, and it's mostly all good. The film has great dance track after great dance track in it, and I enjoyed them all. The narrative is super conventional and totally predictable and not at all interesting, but the beats are good, and Zac is dynamic.
The message of the film, though, is pretty awful, and I can sum this up by describing a single sequence near the very end of the third act. Wes Bentley, who is Zac's mentor for the whole movie, has been telling Zac he needs to make electronic music organically, man (which is, like, soooo Los Angeles, but let's let that go). And Zac is beating himself up about the girl that he lost and the friend that he lost, and he's listening to little recordings he made of each of them on his phone and then he goes for a run in the Valley. Shot of Zac running while listening to his headphones. He runs past a place with a ton of electric wires. He runs past a house. He runs past a whole bunch of trees. Then his internet goes out (or something?) and he no longer has any music to listen to. Zac is mad. But now he runs back past the trees, past the house, past the electric wires. And now instead of dance music we hear birds in the trees, and the sound of a lawnmower. We hear electricity hum. We hear a wind chime hanging from the house's front porch. Some serious John Cage shit, right? If you stop listening to the music you start to hear the music that is actually around you all the time. And if you listen correctly this is music. So this is the message. Well, no, this is the first half of the message.
|Zac's listening to his heart. What are YOU listening to?|