Whiplash review

Damien Chazelle
Miles Teller
J.K. Simmons
Paul Reiser
Rated: R

Miles Teller plays Andrew in “Whiplash,” a young college student with aspirations of being a highly successful musician, more specifically, a great drummer. Opportunity eventually comes knocking when he is brought into a skilled jazz band taught by a man named Fletcher (Simmons).

Andrew soon finds out, though, that Fletcher is one of the toughest instructors he has ever gone up against and it will take all of his will power and talent to meet the massive expectations placed upon him as a member of the band.

“Whiplash” is an intense story and it perfectly displays what a person is like when they are obsessed and what they are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve their ultimate goal. This obsessive nature is explored both with Fletcher who wants to have a student who becomes one of the greats, and Andrew who wishes to be remembered as one of the best drummers ever.

The dynamic between the two creates a battle of wits where Fletcher tries to break down his students and Andrew responds by trying his hardest, through sweat, tears and even blood. The end result is a fantastic climax that can keep a person on the edge of their seat through the sheer power of music.

J.K. Simmons has received most of the acclaim for “Whiplash” and he is more or less guaranteed the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. If my prediction is correct, it will be rightfully so. Simmons was fantastic playing the character almost like a drill sergeant. His angry tirades are filled with emotion and it is easy to tell that it’s not just an actor simply yelling, it is an actor putting his heart and soul into a character that demands greatness.

While Simmons has received most of the recognition, though, it should also be noted that Miles Teller was phenomenal in the role. During his time on screen, Teller shows the conflict that his character is going through on screen.

Andrew wants a normal life, he wants a girlfriend, he wants to spend time with his father, and for the most part he just wants to enjoy himself. At the same time he wants greatness, and feels that he may need to make sacrifices in order to achieve it. Andrew is a very interesting character and Teller both physically through the drumming sessions and mentally when showing the character’s drive makes for a fantastic performance.

Commendable work was also done by Director Damien Chazelle in the technical department. The lighting and camera work make the musical sessions of the film feel less like a movie about a band and more like a battlefield. Right from the first scene where the band plays together, the setting is intense. The camera features all of the different instruments, it demonstrates their power and displays their unity when played together.

The best part without a doubt is the final drum session which also serves as the last confrontation between the two lead characters. The last 15 minutes are simply exhilarating.

“Whiplash” is a solid picture from nearly every stand point. There is one scene that didn’t feel very realistic, but that is a minor complaint to an overall great movie. 5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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