Movie Review: Whiplash [2014]

How far would you go to challenge yourself and be the number one?

We all will probably do a lot, but not everything. Unlike us, Andrew Nieman (Miles Teller) went all the way to be the best at Shaffer Conservatory of Music, in New York, in the whole world. At Shaffer, being the best means to be accepted by Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) at his class and still, it's always just the beginning and the road is never easy. Fletcher is an eccentric, charismatic, harsh, indifferent asshole. He is the best teacher and the worst person the same time, so it's always intense to be in the same room with him. Nieman, to the contrary, is an young boy full of dreams, skills and guts who is just starting to step into the jazz world. His temper and obsession with jazz grabs Terence's attention who invites the newbie to the class.

Even though Andrew has heard a lot horrible things about Fletcher, he experiences something only one man had experienced before - and he then committed a suicide. Even though Teller's character is extremely talented, there is never enough for his teacher, who does literally everything to turn his students into someones exceptionally brilliant. Unheardly difficult practice sessions are the least of problems, when you might be thrown a chair at, if you play a note slightly faster or slower.  But Nieman is never ready to give up - ends relationship, sleeps with drums and does everything to get a permanent drummer place. And it all ends up with mind blowing competition between two brilliant minds creating a spectacular journey from day one of their meeting to its end.

Whiplash is a masterful movie for so many reasons. Even though it's a small film, it has a lot interesting and memorable to suggest - two phenomenal performances, good story, number of crucial questions/answers and it will make you fall in love with Jazz.
Fairly, I'd start with performances and by performances I not only mean J.K. Simmons, who gets all well deserved attention/awards, but Miles Teller, who definitely delivered so far his best and career changing performance, that I will remember for a long time. Teller is unbelievably perfect as Andrew Nieman who has plenty of important, emotional, twisty moments that can be a dreamy material for any Hollywood actor. He nails all of them, started from teardrops on the first lesson, to late-night practices, in the middle with rage, fights against Fletcher. He completely becomes his character, this young, confused, though very strong kid who decides to go against the tyrant intimidating the whole NY music world.

There is not much I can add to what has been said about J.K. Simmons's performance: it's breathtaking. He managed to create a monster from a man who was really a monster and the same time he somehow feels sympathetic. Because of his brilliant acting, whenever you see Fletcher on the screen you freeze just exactly the way his students do and this emotions stuck in my head very deeply even though I saw Whiplash couple of weeks ago.
Besides the fact that Damien Chazelle's screenplay is an amazing material for both actors, it's a very challenging story. It makes you question so many things and most importantly how ready are you to fight for being the best. Showing the relationship of those two people gives you multiple answers and then it's up to your choice. Being written and directed by the same guy, Damien manages to craft a beautiful story and deliver it in the way that you feel every second of it and never gets boring. The reason why I appreciate his work is that it influenced my attitude towards jazz in a good way, it actually made me to listen to it, to feel it and it's not something many films can not do out there. The way he shot scenes, with close-ups, made feelings more acute and sequences were changing as fast as the rhymes of music. Each second, where they play an actual music named Whiplash is a masterpiece of editing, masterpiece of sound and as a whole hugely influential scenes.

I loved how Chazelle played with blood scenes - showing Andrew's bruised hands, blood spots on drums and sticks - it all aggravated emotions how hard it was for the character to follow the his own and his teacher's ego.

In conclusion, Whiplash is one of the most memorable movies I've seen this year, with two unforgettable performances, a quality writing and directing. It's an absolute must see.

4 comments:

  1. I still itch to see it again because it is so amazing. The fact that it took 19 days to film just shows how well the writer/director had thought about everything and how well he was aware of what he was doing. I'm sure his drumming background helped as well.. and that Teller himself was playing the drums makes it feel authentic and greatly made. God, I wish it was on DVD already so I could rewatch it!

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  2. Did not know Chazelle had a drumming background. It explains how authentic everything in the film was. I can't wait to rewatch it on DVD too. Would be a joy.


    Thanks for stopping by :)

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  3. I only glanced at the review because I have yet to see the film but it does look really fantastic

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  4. Go and see it Margaret! Cant wait for your thoughts to read :)

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