Goodness me. What hasn’t already been said about Whiplash? A glance at the praise-filled poster below will tell you everything you need to know, should you be asking yourself “Do I want to see this film?” I’ll try not to replicate any of the superlatives already used, but in all fairness I haven’t been left with many!
Damien Chazelle has created a truly great film, through his dazzling script and vibrant direction. In casting Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, Mr. Chazelle has chosen one of the finest, yet criminally underused, character actors of today and a prodigious young talent. There is neither “rushing nor dragging” when they are onscreen. J.K. Simmons prowls the practice room; the alpha-male dominating his world to the point where direct eye contact from his subordinates is avoided. His pitch-perfect rendering of a teacher/ mentor/ conductor, prepared to go beyond the boundaries of acceptance in order to find that one “special” musician is utterly captivating.
Miles Teller instantly catapults himself into the spotlight with his performance as 19-year-old drum student Andrew Nieman. Mr. Teller does a wonderful job of creating a character who is prepared to sacrifice everything in order to achieve his goal, showing an internal focus and drive that is clearly required to reach the top. While essentially a two-hander, special mention must also go to Paul Reiser, who plays Andrew’s father and Melissa Benoist as his “love interest”. Both provide a richness and believability to the roles that further imbue Whiplash.
Some may see this as a film about bullying, but that would be too perfunctory a statement. Whiplash posits “What are we prepared to withstand to achieve our goals?” Clearly, our antagonist does not/will not see his actions as those of a bully. The belief that true greatness can only be achieved through negative actions – to push someone through and beyond their “comfort zone” – is intrinsic to his methods. The culmination of Whiplash – while not providing any real form of closure – to a certain extent answers the question raised and certainly leaves the audience wanting more.
While I have seen some very good films so far this year, Whiplash is by far and away the best to date! Sparkling with intensity, Whiplash is a tour-de-force, captivating the audience with an intensity that does not let up. Go and see it. You won’t be disappointed.
Thank you for reading 🙂