Let's talk about Whiplash: a story about blood, sacrifice and being the best. Well, I can tell you one thing. Damien Chazelle's directorial debut is as hard hitting as Miles Teller playing the drums and J.K Simmons' brutality towards him.
This is a release that has ever so slowly been making its way around the world - having premiered at a a variety of different festivals and events before opening in select release in a select number of places; not the UK. After waiting ages for it, only recently did I FINALLY get a chance to see this - at a pre-release screening. Having heard a lot of great things about Whiplash, I had high hopes and was not, for a second, disappointed; in fact, it even surpassed my expectations. It was worth the wait.
Andrew Neyman is a jazz drummer; aspiring to be not just great, but ONE of the greats. Having recently been accepted into Shaffer Conservatory of Music - the best music school in the United States - this is a boy driven for success, albeit if his time at his new school isn't as smooth as the beats he plays. When his head teacher J.K Simmons, Terence Fletcher, selects him to come play in his elite studio band, Neyman is over the moon.
However, after getting a chair hurled at his head and barked at by Fletcher, who we find out operates on fear and initimidation to push his students, Andrew realises that he may have bitten off more than he can chew and in order to be the best he'll have to really up his game. As the tension rises, relationships are broken and blood is split. We see just how far he'll go, stopping at nothing, for greatness (both him and Terence) and just how much he'll take until he breaks. It's not all about being the best, but the tumultuous journey to get there. Oh, and the drumming is too good for words too. You don't even need to know anything about music to appreciate this film and the story (although it helps).
What can I say other than phenomenal. This is absolutely incredible. This is one of the greats. Watching this, it's hard to imagine that this is only Chazelle's first time directing as major a motion picture as this. Everything about it hits perfectly - from the tone to the music to the tension. Chazelle picks you up and tosses you around; messing with you, raising your energy, keeping you on-edge, all in time to bring you home with an absolutely marvellous finale that will leave you speechless, before wanting to cheer and applaud until your hands are no more... and I'm not exaggerating. My heart is pounding, just thinking about it!
When it comes to the acting in this, well... I'm speechless. Both Teller and Simmons are out of control and the dynamic between them is on fire; so brilliantly thrilling and tense. The back and forth between the two is electrifying. They pour genuine heart and effort into their roles, like their characters with their passions. I've always known that Teller was a great actor but this is game-changing for him, really putting him to the test... and he shines. It's an emanating performance and even more so once you see how insane his drumming skills are.
However, it's the latter that is the standout star here. As far as movie assholes go, Fletcher is one of the best; hurling chairs at his class, constantly barking abuse and insults, dishing out hilarious one-liners. He's a bad guy... yet he isn't quite though - as shown through the more quieter moments. And my god, Simmons is simply FABULOUS in the role, bringing everything to the table for an utterly unforgettable performance. He's the perfect man for the job (I mean that as a compliment), striking genuine fear and anxiety into your heart. He just nails it.
With some exhilarating acting, astounding directing and a resonating, nail-bitingly thrilling finale, Whiplash is nothing short of a masterpiece.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.