In Theatres: 
Oct 31, 2014
Running Time: 
107 minutes
Being the best at something oftentimes means giving up everything else, especially when it comes to the cutthroat music industry. Simply having the talent isn’t enough. How far would a person go, however, to become number one? How far would they have to be pushed before they break?

Andrew Neyman (MIles Teller) is an aspiring jazz drummer who so far has managed to get into one of the best music schools in the country. He has the potential to be great and soon gets noticed by the formidable Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the head of the school’s best and most intense band. Desperate to become the best drummer, Andrew dedicated every waking moment to perfecting his skills. Fletcher, meanwhile, spends his moments tearing them all down with his questionable and dangerous methods.

Whiplash is a terrifyingly glimpse at what happens when obsession is taken too far. Andrew is obsessed with becoming the best. Fletcher is obsessed with finding the best. The whole teacher/student dichotomy is taken to an extreme level as Fletcher’s methods can very much be viewed as cruel and even tortuous, while Andrew will gladly go to any extreme if it means playing with the best there is. Both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are absolutely phenomenal in their roles.

Simmons is known for his boisterous persona on screen but Whiplash takes that energy and turns it into something truly frightening. From the moment Simmons walks in the door, he commands the screen with his presence. Teller, on the other hand, is Simmons’ vessel. His entire performance is dedicated to drumming. I honestly couldn’t tell you if the bloody sores and blisters on his hands were just make-up or actually real; that’s how convincing Teller’s performance is.

While Whiplash is a film about music and has plenty of music terminology not everyone will understand, you don’t have to be a music lover to appreciate the story. Sure, you might not be able to tell whether Andrew is dragging or rushing his tempo in the fraction of a second it takes for Fletcher to notice, but you damn well know that he demands perfection. The tension builds and builds as Andrew throws everything else away and Fletcher goes to terrifying new lengths to crush his spirits, just waiting for the inevitable crack that will bring everything tumbling down.

Whiplash is a brilliant film from the young and talented director/writer Damien Chazelle. It’s an absolutely masterpiece that combines a perfect blend of acting, sound, and visuals to create one harmonious orchestra.
Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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