Score: 8.9 out of 10.
Whiplash, starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, is based on a short film made by director Damien Chazelle who would later adapt the same premise into a feature length movie.
Here’s a synopsis of Whiplash, courtesy of IMDB:
“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.”
Whiplash was at first a limited release independent film that is just now getting it’s wide release, mostly due to it’s best-picture nominee for the 2015 Oscars. This movie has been on my radar all year long, for several reasons. One being that Miles Teller is one of the more exciting young actors working today and I try to see everything he’s in. Another being that I’ve heard, prior to seeing Whiplash, that J.K. Simmons gives the performance of a lifetime and I couldn’t agree with that statement more than I do now after seeing the film. Also, the whole premise of the film is intriguing. A talented young drummer is pushed to the limit by an abusive music instructor that will both emotionally and physically tear you apart in order to make you great, it is something that we haven’t seen in a mainstream movie in a while, if ever. I couldn’t resist Whiplash with all of these elements and my expectations were easily exceeded.
Like a lot these 2014 movies nominated for best picture, Whiplash is driven by the performances of it’s lead actors particularly Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. The majority of the movie is their interactions, Miles Teller on his own and Simmons teaching his classes and orchestrating in competitions. The other side-characters had very minor roles, therefor allowing a lot of screen time for Teller and Simmons which was a great thing for this movie’s case. The dynamic between those two was so intense and unlike most relationships I’ve ever seen portrayed on screen in my entire life. This felt very much like a thriller due to the intensity that Simmons brought to his character Fletcher, the music instructor. Miles Teller, playing Andrew who’s a 19 year old first year attendee at a prestigious music school, showed me things I’ve never seen from him before as an actor. He wasn’t his typical “cool party guy” that we’ve seen him play before, he played more of an introverted soft-spoken character that was very dedicated to his craft and Teller was very convincing in that sense.
Other than the performances, the best thing about this movie was the music. I can honestly say this movie made me a fan of jazz music, at least for the type of songs they were playing in the film. The title of the movie, Whiplash, is actually one of the songs that is played in the film and it is the primary one that Teller’s character focuses on. I absolutely loved this song and every time they played it in the movie I found myself nodding my head and wanting to dance a little, something I’ve rarely experienced in films. The musical element to this movie made me fall in love with it and made it a very special film in my eye’s that I’ll never forget.
I personally loved this movie and if I were scoring it purely on my taste and opinion, I would probably give it a 10 out of 10 but as a film analyst I did notice a few flaws in the film. One being that some of the events that occured were somewhat unrealistic and I understand that you have to overly dramatize sometimes in movies in order to capture your audience but some of it just felt too forced. Another being that it moved very quickly, allowing little time for character development at some points. I felt like the script was trying to get to the musical and dramatic parts very quickly and in doing so, it skipped over some of the story and scenes that could’ve been added to give more depth to the main characters and some of the side-characters. But all that is me just being nit-picky. Other than that I absolutely loved Whiplash and it’s one of those movies I could watch over and over again.
Have you seen Whiplash? If so, let us know what you thought in the comment section. If not, why not!? It’s freaking amazing and you need to see it if you’re a film fan or a fan of music, especially jazz or drumming.