“Whiplash” is a drama film, written and directed by Damien Chazelle. Set to be released on 16 January in UK cinemas, this is Chazelle’s second movie, following his debut in 2009 with “Guy And Madeline On A Park Bench”. As with his previous film, “Whiplash” is set in the world of jazz music.
Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a 19 year old jazz drummer who has just started his first year at the Shaffer Conservatory, a top music college in New York, and dreams of becoming one of the great jazz drummers, like his idol, Buddy Rich.
At Shaffer, a notoriously ruthless conductor, Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons) is known to be looking for new players for his elite jazz band.
One day, Fletcher gives Andrew the chance to join his band, initially as backup to the core drummer, and is immediately exposed to Fletcher’s methods, which include berating members of the band who do not meet his highly exacting standards, when Fletcher throws a chair at him. It is obvious that Fletcher is a perfectionist who demands that his students give everything they have, pushing them to their limits, and beyond.
Andrew is portrayed as a bit of a loner, who is a little unsure of his place in the world. As he begins to find some success with his drumming at Shaffer, he finds the courage to ask Nicole (Melissa Benoist), a pretty girl at a cinema he frequents with his father (Paul Reiser), out on a date and they begin to develop a relationship.
However, as Andrew becomes increasingly driven and focused on practising and improving his drumming, he starts to isolate himself from those close to him – even breaking up with Nicole, convinced that she will get in the way of his dream.
Andrew finds himself being pushed further still by Fletcher, both physically and emotionally, and, with two other drummers also vying for core status with Fletcher’s band, is never able to rest on his laurels.
There are a number of twists and turns to the story, all leading to a dramatic finale on the stage of the JVC jazz festival. Both Teller and Simmons play their respective roles perfectly, with blood, sweat and tears evidently spilt in the process . The film as won over a dozen awards already, with numerous other nominations pending, and there are even rumours circulating about Oscar nominations
Chazelle, a jazz drummer himself, said he wanted to dramatise what he had gone through in high school to learn the art, which was “fear of missing a beat, fear of losing tempo. Most overwhelmingly, fear of my conductor. I wanted to make a movie about music that felt like a war movie, or a gangster movie – where instruments replaced weapons, where words felt as violent as guns”
I really enjoyed this movie. I thought the acting was top-notch, and Miles Teller’s drumming performance was very good indeed. The film told an interesting and engaging story and there was some really good jazz music used. Overall – highly recommended viewing.