The road to greatness can take you to the edge.
Whiplash is a 2014 psychological drama directed by Damien Chazelle, written by Damien Chazelle, produced by Bold Films, Blumhouse Productions, and Right of Way Films, and distributed by Sony Pictures Classics. It's based off of Damien Chazelle's 2013 short film, Whiplash. The film stars Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. It was nominated for and won Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Mixing, and was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.
"Not quite my tempo." - Terence Fletcher
Jazz drummer Andrew Neiman is attending Shaffer Conservatory, the most prestigious music school in the world. As he works his way into the studio band, Andrew is pushed to the edge by Terence Fletcher, a ruthless music instructor that will stop at nothing to allow students to achieve their potential. As Andrew is pushed to his mental and physical limit, he has to prove to Fletcher that he can perform under distress.
Whiplash: What I Liked
Whiplash is most famous for J.K. Simmons's iconic performance as Terence Fletcher, the psychotic music instructor that is insanely cruel towards his students. And he's fantastic. Simmons gives a riveting performance that makes the audience member so uncomfortable. He commands the screen every single time he's on. It's captivating. Fletcher himself is a great, nuanced villain. You never imagined that a music teacher could be such a terrifying villain, but he is. They ground this movie in reality, so it feels like Fletcher could be your teacher, and that concept is just so, so scary.
Whiplash: What I Didn't Like
This film is also really messy. It feels like the first draft of the script was turned in...and then that's the movie they went with. They nailed everything with Terence Fletcher, but everything else feels like an afterthought. Andrew Neiman is not a great character. He isn't very likable. They have a plotline involving his girlfriend that is just forgotten about. His relationship with his dad isn't developed. There's a lot of elements that just feel like they didn't get the proper fleshing out that they deserved. They got the biggest, most important part of the film down, but they didn't really do a good job with the other stuff.
Why Whiplash Works
J.K. Simmons is good enough to helm this entire film. The conflict between Fletcher and Neiman is well written. It's compelling. Despite Neiman not being a fantastic character, you feel bad for him and sympathize with him because Fletcher is such an awful person. It's a very well written and directed by Damien Chazelle, and a powerful, powerful performance at the center lifts it up and makes it a solid movie.
Final Thoughts and Score
Despite being a mess of a movie, Whiplash has a great central conflict with a terrifying, grounded villain that will mesmerize you for the whole runtime.
I will go Savory here. Age range is 13+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
Fun Factor: 7.5/10
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Rated R for language, disturbing themes and images, thematic elements
Released on October 10, 2014
1 hour and 46 minutes
Miles Teller as Andrew Neiman
J.K. Simmons as Terence Fletcher
Paul Reiser as Jim Neiman
Melissa Benoist as Nicole
Austin Stowell as Ryan Connolly
Nate Lang as Carl Tanner