Whiplash is a brilliantly acted, scored, written and directed film featuring compulsive behaviour meets sadistic behaviour.
A music student focuses on his drum-playing skills to be the best in the world; it’s his dream. He does this to the oblivion of everything else. Some would say that is the necessary perspective to be the best at what you do. Others would say that’s compulsive and destructive, certainly unbalanced.
A music teacher pushes his students to be the best they can be, all the while looking for the next musical great. His methods are extreme, brutal and sometimes deleterious. Some would say this is the necessary perspective to filter out the greats from those just having a passing interest. Others would say this is sadistic and destructive, certainly unbalanced.
But what happens when these two people get together? Will they exploit each other’s weakness and enter into a dysfunctional downward spiral? Will the teacher-student rivalry be put into play with teacher undermining student out of jealousy? At least in this case it’s a psychological game of cat and mouse, one manipulating the other by exploiting situational advantages then taking control. That is until the other pulls a surprise chess move. You, dear viewer, are just along for the ride, so stay out of the way unless you want to get hurt.
Miles Teller as the student drummer, Andrew and JK Simmons as the music professor, Fletcher, both do an amazing job with their characters. Simmons, in particular, is absolutely riveting. His performance is so full of life, tension, anger and purpose I would be totally surprised if doesn’t get the best actor nom from the Academy.
Writing and directing create this film’s urgent tone and purpose. And that, dear viewer, seems to be to slap you repeatedly in the face until you answer the question – How much will you sacrifice to be the best?
If you’re looking for an well written, produced, acted film filled with tension, purpose and will probably land numerous Oscar moms, Whiplash is a good watch.
Definitely tied for favorite 2014 film with Interstellar and it will be purchased when it rolls out to BluRay.