Any drummer worth their salt, will immediately point out that pursuing a career in Jazz is the equivalent of subjecting yourself to torture of the highest degree. It is notoriously tedious, and is a far cry from it’s perenial Rock cousin. You aren’t learning parts so much as creating spontaneously to interact with what the other instruments are doing. Concentration is key and even a single mistake does not go unnoticed. Now put yourself in that scenario and throw in R. Lee Ermy from Fullmetal Jacket in there for good measure. That’s Whiplash for you. Whiplash stars Miles Teller as Andrew Neiman, a passionate Jazz drummer who spends his time listening to Buddy Rich and practising his frills late into the night. On one such night, he attracts the attention of Terence Fletcher(JK Simmons), who runs the school’s prestigious Studio Band. After a few brief encounters, Fletcher takes Andrew under his wing, only for Andrew to realize that he’s the devil in disguise. Fletcher proceeds to push and haze the holy bejesus of out Andrew, turning him inside out, reopening wounds from Andrew’s past in his pursuit to help him become one of the greats. Soon, Fletcher’s methods begin to take their toll on Andrew, causing him to alienate the people around him like his father(Paul Reiser) and his girlfriend, Nicole(Glee’s Melissa Benoist). Whiplash’s greatest strengths lies in the performances of it’s two two leads and the sheer intensity that it builds slowly throughout it’s running time of 90 minutes. Miles Teller, who you’ve seen in films like Project X and the wonderful Spectacular Now, is phenomenal. His portrayal of Neiman as a young conflicted man, who will go to any lengths to achieve greatness, is top notch and the Oscar Buzz he’s generating is well and truly deserved. JK Simmons fits seamlessly into the character of Fletcher and all but runs away with it. He is fantastic as the teacher who will never stop pushing,never letting up in his pursuit for the next “Charlie Parker”. His performance will leave you disgusted, terrified and stunned. Mr Simmons better start practising his Oscar Acceptance Speech, cause he seems to have KO’d the opposition even before the bout has begun.
Props must also be handed to the film’s writer- director, 29 year old, Damien Chazelle. In only his second film as director, Chazelle displays a sense of maturity far beyond his years. He grabs hold of your attention right from when the credits roll onto the screen, all the way to the film’s shattering climax, slowly tweaking the tension higher and higher along the way, as if he were tightening the strings of his guitar. There is a scene in the film where JK Simmons tells Miles Teller that there are no two words in the English Language, more harmful than “Good Job”. Whiplash emphasizes that line. Just like the climax of the film, it does not wait to be appreciated. For 90 minutes, it showcases the sheer genius that went into making it and eventually, goes out the only way it can, with a bang. Highly recommended, without a doubt, one of the greatest pieces of Cinema you will ever have the privilege to watch. Whiplash is beyond terrific. Go, unravel your sanity. The pleasure is unparalleled.