A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
When I was younger, I was a percussionist in my high school band. My aspirations of continuing down this road into a career were impassioned, albeit briefly within my two-year stint, but nevertheless, a drive was there at one stage. I gave it up, got rid of my kit and packed away the sticks, but to this very day I am taunted by my father’s words of “You should have been a drummer, Bill”.
Apparently I have rhythm, and who knows where it could have taken me; however after witnessing the sheer horror and tyranny exhibited in Whiplash, I’m thankful my father’s humorous “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” attitude is all I am subject to – it could be much, much worse…
An incredibly anticipated release, Whiplash is about obsession, devotion and aspirations of success, as well as the struggles and sacrifices necessary in reaching one’s goals. It’s also about mentorship, encouragement and the line between assistance and torture within a field of art.
Miles Teller plays Andrew Neyman, a young and gifted drummer who wants to be one of ‘The Greats’. He has a drive that pushes him beyond his limits which immediately signifies his passion, but it’s only after he is noticed by Terrance Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a well-known and respected conductor, that his skills and aspirations are pushed beyond belief.
Terrance Fletcher is the perfect counter player to Teller’s Neyman, and it is through his unapologetic use of intimidation, humiliation and totalitarianism as a justifiable means of extracting one’s full potential, that an intense battle of wits and power ensues, concluding in one of the most spectacular finales I personally have ever witnessed on-screen.
“Whiplash”, at its core, is about the aforementioned story, but it has significant layers that play out equally as well. For example, the struggles at home for Neyman as well as finding young love are explored excellently and actually add something to the story which is a credit to the writers behind the film.
Too often there is a wonderful story put to screen that includes subplots that could add something big to the overall picture, but are ultimately underwhelming and underused, leaving the audience disappointed. However the writing within “Whiplash” has been pushed and so meticulously crafted, that the full potential has been extracted! There are some exchanges of words at certain points that just stick with you…
From the word go, “Whiplash” is on! With an opening that immediately reminded me“2001”, which has a crescendoing snare drum escalate over a black screen (similar to the ambient crescendoing noises from “2001”), the tone and essence are set.
Miles Teller is at his very best and doesn’t shy away from showing us his real-life drumming capabilities; the man is a supreme talent! Seeing Teller go literally berserk on the drums, crashing and bashing relentlessly until blood spools out of from his blistered palms was a reminder of how central and crucial the drummer of any band is.
Although Teller is flawless in his performance, Whiplash is all about the supporting role of Fletcher. If J.K. Simmons doesn’t win Oscar gold next month, I will be both disappointed and extremely enraged. It’s not all about the awards, but this performance by Simmons is truly one of ‘The Greats’, here’s hoping he receives the glory and recognition he deserves as he holds his Academy Award up high!
Continuing with the hopefulness surrounding “Whiplash’s” forthcoming Oscar performance, I am pleading that it is recognised for it’s editing.
Tom Cross has done a marvellous job as he cuts and splices perfectly timed close-ups and stylistically focused imagery of orchestral instruments in full swing. Both rhythmic and intelligent in execution, the editing in “Whiplash” is one of the film’s greatest assets.
Unlike how Birdman disguises it’s edits to give the illusion of seamlessness, Whiplash is in-your-face and full of potency. Is the film too long? Too short? Does it drag or rush? Absolutely not. There are several moments when you suspect it could abruptly end, as well as moments that you could not see coming, it has it all, and it is a perfectly constructed picture!
If you haven’t already guessed, Whiplash is a must-see for music lovers, drama lovers or lovers of a fantastic movie experience. With solid writing, fantastic performances, world-class editing and an unabashedly breathtaking grand finale, Whiplash is one of, if not the film of the year.