Andrew (Miles Teller) is a talented drummer, the problem is he knows that he is a talented drummer. Not only does he know he is talented but he has a game plan that will see him eventually mentioned in the same breath as some of the greatest jazz drummers of all time.
The problem for Andrew is that game plan means studying at the Schaeffer Academy of Music and to reach the top there he needs to find a way to come up against and inpress the legendary Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a harsh but talented teacher who makes a bully look like your friend and frequently has his students in tears.
It’s a very special moment when you realise that you are watching a GREAT film. It’s like the whole world suddenly stops and you find yourself so engrossed in the film that you will be talking about it for the next twelve months. Whiplash is one such film, sure one quick read of the synopsis may leave you expecting to watch something akin to an episode of Glee, but what you will up seeing is a film that is more like Full Metal Jacket meets Centre Stage. And it also manages to delivers two of the most intense acting performances in cinematic history.
Director Damien Chazelle has to be one of the most intriguing filmmakers in Hollywood at the moment. When he’s not penning music based films like Guy And Madeline On A Park Bench and Grand Piano he dabbles with horror like The Last Exorcism Part II, but nothing that he ever worked on before could ready a cinematic audience for just how good Whiplash really is.
With Whiplash Chazelle brings everything together perfectly. His script brings an amazing amount of suspense and drama to the table and there is no way you could ever expect a music based film to ever generate as much suspense as it does. Unlike most films that are made by the Hollywood machine today Whiplash not only has not one single wasted scene, it actually has no wasted lines either… ever single piece of dialogue is a gem and needs to be there. In the wash of this film over the next couple of months this is the film that every screenwriting lecturer is going to be using as an example of how to write the perfect script. Yes this is a screenplay that is going to be read for years to come.
One of the things that hits you the most during Whiplash is the harshness and brutality in the film. Blood, sweat and tears are literally spilt throughout this film and while a lesser filmmaker would have decided to try and incorporate more of Andrew’s problems with his family into the film Chazelle is a smart enough filmmaker to know that it shouldn’t be the centrepiece of this film. No this is more of a film that is really Andrew vs Flectcher, yes Andrew’s family are against him but at the end of the day it really is only Fletcher’s opinion that matters to Andrew and that’s where the film needs to focus. With the harshness of Whiplash it would have been very easy for Chazelle to slip up and deliver a weak ending, but he even manages to deliver a classic finale that is going to be talked about for a long time.
The other strong point to Whiplash is the acting. Like the above mentioned screenwriting students young actors will be hunting down copies of Whiplash and then concentrating on the performance that J.K. Simmons delivers to see the true way an actor should deliver a role with true intensity. Simmons is a shoe-in for an Oscar nomination (if not an Oscar win) for his brutal and engrossing portrayal of possibily one of the most foulest bullies to ever grace the big screen. His scenes with Teller are like two mountain goats butting heads and Simmons class also brings the best out in Teller as well. Miles Teller has been an actor on the rise for a while, actually ever since he was the best thing in the Footloose remake, and finally Teller gets to deliver with an emotionally involving performances that also allows him to showcase his classy drumming ability as well.
Whiplash isn’t just one of the films of the year, it is one of those films that is going to be talked about for years to come and ultimately will be labelled a dramatic classic. From its dramatic and intense screenplay to two of the best acting performances in modern cinema Whiplash is one film that is a definite must see for any serious cinema lover.
Directors: Damien Chazelle
Starring: J.K. Simmons, Miles Teller
Release Date: 16th January, 2015