Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang, Chris Mulkey, Damon Gupton, Suanne Spoke, Max Kasch, Charlie Ian, Jayson Blair, Kofi Siriboe, Kavita Patil, C.J. Vana
Synopsis: A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong language including some sexual references
9.6 / 10
- J.K. Simmons delivers a mesmerizing performance that was not only captivating to watch, but his character is arguably the most interesting part about the movie itself.
- The Cinematography was excellent, as it helped create the intense atmosphere of what Andrew was going through.
- Miles Teller had a solid performance.
- The sound editing and mixing was great
- Damien Chazelle does a tremendous job writing and directing this masterpiece
- The music was great
- Pacing of the film was good
- All the characters outside of Fletcher and Andrew weren't that interesting. However, they were never meant to be the film's focus to begin with, as the story seems to intentionally centralize around Andrew and Fletcher specifically, so it never ruins the movie.
There are no two words in the English language more harmful than "good job".
How far do we have to push ourselves to achieve success in life? If someone messes up in life, then do we chew them out until they sob their eyes out in hopes that it'll inspire them to do better? Or do we simply coddle them by saying, "Good job on giving it your best." It's been said that adversity builds character, and how musical legends like Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong never would've came to be if they hadn't been pushed beyond their emotional and mental limits.
Are such harsh methods necessary to building one's character? Or maybe these methods could be pushing some people away from living up to their full potential? Or perhaps by not pushing harshly enough, then we could be depriving the world of the next Louis Armstrong. "Whiplash" presents an interesting character study about the competitive field of the music industry, and how far one must go to achieve success.
As we watch the story, we find that it can be both mentally and emotionally exhausting. Miles Teller plays a young musical prodigy named Andrew, who has a passion for playing the drums. He gets accepted to a prestigious music school, and he eventually finds himself under the tutelage of the school's most respected professor. Although Andrew considers it a huge honor to learn from such a man, he soon finds that Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) isn't one to hold back from abusing his students.
Throughout the film, we see Fletcher put Andrew in all sorts of hectic situations from slapping him in the face every time he misses a beat, to often toying with his emotions about whether or not his position in the class is secured. It's a hectic situation between a student and a teacher, where Andrew tries everything he can to live up to his professor's expectations. Meanwhile, his professor constantly challenges him, as it pushes him to the brink of insanity and utter isolation.
Based on the 2013 short film of the same name. Damien Chazelle (director and writer of this feature) presents arguably one of the best character studies ever presented onto the big screen. It's an interesting debate to go over on how far one has to be pushed to achieve greatness, while asking how much is going too far in the process, as Damien delivers on all these themes perfectly.
J.K. Simmons does a tremendous job as the strict no nonsense teacher that pushes Andrew to his limits. I have to admit that my only experience seeing J.K. act was during Raimi's "Spider-Man" films prior to seeing "Whiplash", but I have to say he's quite an actor. He not only embodies the role, but his character might be arguably the most complex and interesting character throughout the entire film.
Sure, his character does come off as something an egomaniac and a jerk, to say the least. However, we're also shown that he does mean well. And even though his methods do come across as harsh, we are shown the he genuinely cares about his students living up to their full potential. Whether you agree with his character's methods or not, Damien and J.K. manage to portray Fletcher in such a way that you can still see where he's coming from.
As for Miles Teller, I will tell my readers this much. He's certainly no slouch when it comes to acting. In fact, I'm going to make a bold prediction right now. If he keeps delivering solid performances like he did in "Whiplash", then don't be surprised if you end hearing Miles' name come up for an Oscar sometime in the foreseeable future.
As for all the technical aspects of the film like cinematography, sound mixing and etc, I have to say it was pretty spot on from what I could tell. The cinematography really helped set the tone and feel of the movie, as it helped immerse you into the competitive field of the music industry. The sound mixing and editing was pretty good as well.
Overall, this film was probably one of the best movies ever made, and it's easy to see why it was nominated for "Best Picture" at this year's Academy Awards. If anything, it's almost a damn shame this movie didn't get that much attention last year at the box office.
© 2015 Steven Daniels