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Under the direction of a ruthless instructor, a talented young drummer begins to pursue perfection at any cost, even his humanity.
I've played guitar for 22 years, bass for about 19 years and drums for less than three. I'm pretty good at guitar and bass and intensely average on drums but this is probably because I have only ever viewed these instruments as fun. I never intended to set out to be the best there is, was or ever will be; I play them because I enjoy it and I can express myself through the strings and sticks. In this respect, I'm in the vast majority of players. Genius doesn't think like that. Geniuses are born with that certain something and then devote themselves to an eternity of practice, rudiments, blood, sweat and tears to get to where they want to be and then improve on that. Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is one such prodigy; a gifted young jazz drummer who has won a place at the esteemed Schaffer Music School and it is here that he meets Fletcher. Imagine if R. Lee Ermey's drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket was taking tips from The Thick Of It's Malcolm Tucker in the art of personal relations and then give him sheet music and the role of band conductor. That's Fletcher, a truly hateful character but one whom you buy into completely thanks to the performance of the always majestic J.K. Simmons and the fact that despite his monstrousness, one can see what he's doing. His plan is to wring every last drop of sweat and blood out of his musicians so that they may be the next Charlie Parker. He just chooses to do so through intimidation and terrific insults. He's happy to be the bad guy if it makes the good guy great. This is where the film succeeds so completely, in the at-times unbearably tense relationship between two men who want the same thing: perfection. Whiplash doesn't get everything right. There's a love story that feels as unnecessary as it is light and I do wonder if non musicians will get the same out of this film as players will because if you're a musician (and especially if you're a drummer), this film is practically porn. Teller is clearly a gifted drummer because as far as I could tell, what you see and hear are the same; the people on screen are really playing and it's spellbinding. That said, I think it's a film that will get past any concerns about it being niche due to the ferocity of the performances. You certainly don't have to like jazz and I hope you don't have to be a musician to appreciate fully this dramatic, tense and utterly terrific film. 9/10
It's hard to explain the emotion that 'Whiplash' evokes. For a film about music, the silence is just as dramatic, sometimes more so. A story about being pushed beyond your limits in order to achieve actual greatness; the film manages to challenge not only our emotional understanding of how far is too far, but a full realization of the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to perfect a craft. Simply put, all aspects of this film had me on the edge of my seat until the last beat that puts you right back at the beginning.
This film is an extremely intense watch. The characterisation, soundtrack and story blend together in a nightmarish realism. The themes explored in Whiplash ought to ring true with anyone who has been through the education system and fallen prey to high expectations and the desire to succeed. Miles Teller does an excellent job portraying the protag - someone who has a strong need for stardom or recognition, and feels unsupported by his family who don't seem to value his interests. There are a couple of twists in this film that make it really engaging and unpredictable. Definitely a must watch.
It's really great. Brilliant editing and acting and the direction is excellent. It's really good. I recently rewatched it since I first saw it when it came out. I recommend this for anyone who has good taste in films.