Whiplash is Damien Chazelle’s riveting creation full of rawness of emotion and a depiction of unwavering will. It may not garner the hype that it deserves, but damn it deserves to be revered as one of the best movies this year. Miles Teller was good in The Spectacular Now, but he’s truly spectacular here as a one who aspires above all, to be great.JK Simmons’ Fletcher is not your typical stereotypical tough master. Though he spits words of fire, Simmons raises the bar with a certain vulnerability. It’s a thoroughly engaging film that cuts away most of the ‘artsy’ visual grammer you see in films like Birdman, and that’s precisely why it captures our spirit and vigour in the simplest of ways. Raw emotion. Brilliant character relationships. And two performances by Teller and Simmons beyond the realm of acting.
I’m not going to spoil much of the story for you on this one because you should dive into this experience and feel the vibrant energy the film thrives on. Broadly speaking, Whiplash depicts Andrew (Miles Teller) and his unwavering determination and doggedness as he fights through the blood, sweat and tears in an attempt to become a great drummer. Fletcher (JK Simmons) is the musical teacher who doesn’t relax for a second, pushing his students far beyond their limits. In one scene he retorts Andrew who suggests that his tough methods might discourage the next Charlie Parker (famous musician) from ever becoming Charlie Parker by saying ‘But the next Charlie Parker will never be discouraged. Fletcher is tough to impress, and similarly Andrew is tough to reject. So there we have it, two flawed characters whose energy to succeed combines in fascinating ways. They inspire themselves as much as they inspire the other(whether they like to admit it or not).
Melissa Benoist might feature significantly less than her two co-stars but I feel like crediting her for a very natural performance. Her character, Nicole, is one with simple dreams and in Andrew’s view, will hinder him from greatness. She thus provides the foil to the path Andrew has decided to take, but one that Andrew will have to reject in favour of the high minded ideals that he has. Ultimately, whether this success is truly ‘worth it’ is up for debate, but the film is succint in focusing on the process of greatness, carrying with it a certain objectivity that makes Whiplash such an effective piece of filmmaking. Damie Chazelle’s film is indeed special. It leaves out the moral judgement on Andrew and Fletcher, calling on us to appreciate their great efforts for what it is. There’s no cheesy finale, no standing ovation, and no greek chorus. Sustained by a pulsating rhythm, Whiplash is an effective exhibition of will and determination.
There are tender moments too, which provide some nice contrast to the high intensity scenes. Set with the backdrop of modern jazz tunes like Overture, Whiplash and Caravan, it captures all the facets of emotion.
So don’t be a ‘pancy a**’ (JK Simmons and his wonderful array of expletives), and watch one of the best films you’ll ever see this year. Oh and if your’e a big fan of jazz like me, Whiplash’s soundtrack is so ‘motherfu*****’ awesome!
Rating: 9.5/10 One of a kind, and easily one of the top three films this year