Cert: 15 Runtime: 107 mins Director: Damien Chazelle Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist and Nate Lang
There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job
Sundance Film Festival 2014 the debut of Whiplash happened, it received a standing ovation at the end. Since the news hit out on Whiplash I have been fascinated by this film. It’s not a big movie, but it feels like a determined pit bull. It has had rave reviews across the board, mainly for it’s two leading roles and story. So what is Whiplash about? Nineteen-year-old drummer Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is determined not to settle for mediocrity. He wants to become one of the jazz greats, like his idol Buddy Rich. He wins a place at America’s top music academy, where Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) is in charge of the leading jazz ensemble. Andrew’s talents soon catch this star’s instructor’s attention. But Fletcher is a hard, cruel, bullying taskmaster who drives his competitive students ruthlessly towards perfection.
This film is nothing but tense, it’s a powerhouse of emotion and determination. Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, he drew from his own experiences as a high school student in a jazz ensemble group, in which his band instructor was a force not to be reckoned with. His static camera catches the energy and emotional swings with such unpredictability you would think it was a documentary. It draws comparisons to Raging Bull; from soaking a clenched, bloody fist into a bucket of ice after an intense drumming session to the dilemma of how one functions off the drum kit when the band stops playing. Damien Chazelle has really brought this tale to life, it rugged, tough and painful to watch at some times. My main problem is that the plot is slightly dull towards the middle section, and to be honest that was my only issue. Except for the shaky cam, I just detest that anyway.
J.K. Simmons has evolved from J. Jonah Jameson to Gny. Sgt. Hartman of the jazz world. He is terrifying and it’s such a haunting performance. This really is his career best and I hop to see more of this from him in the future. His performance is clearly a supporting role but he is the stand out. It’s a difficult battle between him and Edward Norton when award season kicks in. Miles Teller does stand his ground here, gone are The Project X days now he can start becoming a performer. You can feel his determination to impress Fletcher between every hit. You may feel like they hate each other, but under the skin they admire each other. But what Fletcher does say is you have to bleed, sweat and work hard. The rest of the cast a just puppets in the grand scale of Whiplash. The ending of Whiplash is what makes this film a behemoth, I was just so engrossed in the ending. I don’t think Whiplash will do very well winning during awards season, but it does re-store your faith in cinema and storytelling.