Whiplash: Phenomenally Played—Movie

At the conclusion of the uniquely wonderful, “Whiplash,” you will feel a variety of emotions. Your senses will be put through the ringer, but this incredible film is so worth it all. Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash” is the story of a gifted young drummer, Andrew (Miles Teller) and his maniacal music teacher, Fletcher (J.K. Simmons).

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Andrew is a freshman at a prestigious NYC music conservatory. His practice catches the ear of Fletcher, who, in their first meeting, encourages Andrew to push himself harder. This encounter leads to an eventual invitation to join Fletcher’s core jazz band, which is when the film goes into true “Whiplash” mode…musically and emotionally.

Although “Whiplash” is about a student/teacher relationship, it can just as easily be about a parent/child or even boss/underling…any relationship in which the person in power is pushing the other to succeed. The film is about lines that should and shouldn’t be crossed and when enough is enough. At one point in the film, Fletcher says the two worst words one can ever hear are, “good job.” But is that always true?

Miles Teller is positively phenomenal in capturing the emotions of the student so driven to be the best. Although Teller actually does his own drumming, which is absolutely amazing, that is just an added bonus. It’s his dramatic performance that stays with you.

All those years of playing “Law and Order’s” kindly psychiatrist hid the real talent that is J.K. Simmons. His portrayal of the egomaniacal Fletcher is unbelievably frightening, intimidating, a tad crazy…and just plain fantastic. At first you might thing you’re getting a one-note, drill sergeant performance, but as the movie progresses, you see that there are real shades to his characterization.

The supporting cast of actors and musicians is terrific. In particular, Paul Reiser has a nice turn as Andrew’s laid-back father. Proud and caring of Andrew, his character provides an interesting counterpoint to Fletcher’s “nurturing.” Also very good is Melissa Benoist as Nicole, the girl to whom Andrew is attracted, and who gets caught up in his quest to be great.

In addition to the great casting and musical score (which is fabulous), is the extraordinary camera work and editing. The shots of Andrew on the drums at frenetic pace coupled with Fletcher’s “conducting”…his snaps, pauses and more snaps…are just electrifying. The editing for all of these scenes becomes an additional character within the movie. And Andrew’s final drum solo is alone worth the price of admission.

“Whiplash” will give you just that…and have you leaving the theatre breathless.

4 nuggets out of 4

 

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2 Responses to “Whiplash: Phenomenally Played—Movie”

  1. jordanandeddie Says:

    can’t wait to see this one – the trailer for it was brilliant and it looks like the movie is as good as it looked like being
    E

    Like

    • Joan Fuchsman Says:

      My friend went to see it yesterday and immediately called me afterwards and her first words were, “Oh my God!” She was really impressed by J.K. Simmons, but both leads were terrific.

      Like

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