Whiplash is an intense drama that entertains you with jazz standards set in a music conservatory school at the hands of the verbally abusive Music teacher, Terrence Fletcher, played outstandingly by J.K. Simmons. His rants and verbal abuse reaches new heights. It’s some unrelenting, punishing, bashing that borders on intentional infliction of mental anguish.
One of Fletcher’s victims is 19 year old Andrew Neiman, wonderfully portrayed by Miles Teller, who practices and listens to music relentlessly in his quest to become “great”. Andrew practices at all hours of the night, ends a blossoming relationship so as not to be distracted and drums until his fingers are bloodied and blistered just to win Fletcher’s approval and land the core chair in Fletcher’s jazz ensemble.
We get pulled into the struggle between two creative geniuses, one bordering on madness, the other consumed with perfection. At times it’s hard to differentiate the two. What is convincing is the realistic drum playing by Miles. Miles throws himself into the soul of the drummer and captures it with unfaltering realism. Writer-director Damien Chazelle, himself a drummer, hired actor-drummer Nate Lang (who plays Carl, Andrew’s rival) to teach Miles. That and a lot of practice brought the needed realism.
The movie shows us a grittier, exaggerated, punishing side of music school that is quite opposite of the singing and dancing in the streets view portrayed in “Fame”. This movie will not have you dancing in the streets, but you will give a standing ovation at the final confrontation whether you’re rooting for Andrew or Fletcher.
Starring: J.K. Simmons, Miles Teller, Paul Reiser
Director: Damien Chazelle
Company: Sony Pictures Classics
Now Showing: In Theatres
MPAA Rating: R (strong language)