223) Whiplash (2014)
A promising young drummer enrolls at a cutthroat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.
10/10 – This is a truly stunning film and is fully deserved of the praise it has received so far. A standing ovation the previous night at the London Film Festival, and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this years Sundance Film Festival, it is surely in contention for numerous awards to come.
Most notably would be Best Actor for J.K. Simmons, who plays the abusive Jazz Instructor with such impeccable precision it is terrifying and intriguing at the same time. Similarly, Miles Teller could be in the running as he matches Simmons in each and every scene as the resilient and ambitious student determined to make something of himself. The blood and sweat are all real in this film, Teller is a legitimate force on the drums and if you thought he was a good actor in The Spectacular Now, you will soil yourself when you see Whiplash.
Jazz music obviously plays a huge part, and whether you are a lover or a hater of the genre you cannot help but enjoy tapping along throughout. Everything about this film had me gripped, the twists and turns, the rise and falls, it all comes together perfectly and it is a testament to the creative mind of Damien Chazelle. He takes something seemingly simple, exposes it for it’s complexities and combines it with the extremes people go to for success. You are left with exceptional cinema, and a final act that leaves you speechless.
It has it’s minor faults, but none worth detracting from the excellence of the film. We didn’t get to explore the characters back stories all that much, or really see much outside of the interaction between Teller & Simmons, but it wasn’t necessary. We knew what we needed to know, and were shown what we wanted to see. Anything else was extra, and could have potentially slowed down the pace.
Some may also find fault with the bullying aspects of the film, the anti-PC insults and abuse of Simmon’s character are often weirdly entertaining when they really shouldn’t be. It’s important to keep in mind that he is a unique individual, created for the purposes of entertainment, to shock, and to shine a light on what goes on behind closed doors when individuals are seeking to be the best. It makes the back and forth in the student teacher dynamic more engaging, more enthralling and creates the entire foundation for the film.
Nobody would see a film about a drummer than settled for second best because his teacher was really nice. I, however, would see Whiplash multiple times and encourage each and everyone else to see it too.