Director: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons
Release Date: Thursday 23rd October, Sony Pictures
Whiplash is the story of a talented, promising and young drummer named Andrew Neyman (played by Miles Teller) who is enrolled at the best and most cutthroat music conservatory in the USA. Instructor Terence Fletcher (played by J.K. Simmons), known for his teaching talents and terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his ensemble. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to both the brink of his ability and his sanity.
The story is loosely based on writer and director Damien Chazelle’s experience as a music student and recently won the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Whiplash is an extraordinary and intense film that features fantastic performances by Miles Teller and particularly astounding and fantastic performance by J.K. Simmons that is really the key to this film. Simmons is vile, aggressive and intimidating. It is a grand performance by Simmons.
Student-teacher relationships don’t get more extreme or combative than this film. It is a cocktail of energy, passion and blood blisters that serves as a tribute to the obsessive pursuit of perfection and excellence.
The only issue that I had with this film is the character of Nicole (played by Melissa Benoist), who is brought in as a potential love interest for Andrew, but is quickly dropped. It seems an obvious move to attempt to attract female viewers to the film. Nicole is literally the only female character with the exception of the occasional, but silent, extra. She has approximately 15 minutes of screen time in the 107 minute film.
All-in-all, Whiplash is an extraordinary, energetic and explosive debut feature from 29-year-old Damien Chazelle that is well worthy of the critical and audience acclaim that the film has garnered so far.
An energetic and riveting drama.