Director: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist
Andrew (Teller) is a student who has always dreamt of being a great drummer, remembered forever. He encounters Fletcher (Simmons) and gets inducted into the band, but Fletcher pushes him to his limits. Greatness doesn’t come easy, and Andrew drums until he bleeds in the hope of finally getting the impressed look from Fletcher.
Wow, Whiplash is amazing. I was gripped from start to finish. Teller and Simmons are great together, Teller as the sensitive guy with a dream that ends up putting the dream before everything else. I enjoyed his transformation as an introverted, solitary figure drumming in a room alone to being part of a band and yelling at Fletcher with a blood-covered face. There are a couple of developments that took me by surprise but it’s really the characters that kept me interested. It’s so tense at parts, and the climax to the film is rewarding.
The concept of greatness is one that a lot of us can share, especially creative types. Fletcher’s philosophy of pushing students seems abhorrent at first but once he explains why there’s actually some understanding, although he’s still a bit of an asshole. There were brief glimpses given to Andrew’s relationship with his father (Reiser) and other members of his family. the family scene was brief but effective, although I felt it was a little clichéd to have the family be as obnoxious as they are. The other aspect of the film is the relationship with Nicole (Benoist). This is merely a plot device so it doesn’t have the emotional impact that I think the director hoped it would, but it highlights the change in Andrew’s personality and shows how far he’s willing to push himself to be great.
It’s a rewarding film that is completely engrossing and engaging. As I said before the climax is great, with the two characters warring on the stage. Andrew’s face is contorted into a near-orgasmic state while Fletcher stands over him, always controlling. A really taut, tense film, and I don’t think I’ll ever look at drumming the same way again.