Whiplash (2014)

July 6, 2016

Whiplash is one of those films that hooked me from the opening one-point perspective shot until the closing credits started to roll. This film, its two main actors, the cinematography, the editing and the story all worked so well together.

Whiplash follows a young drummer at a prestigious music school, Andrew (Miles Teller) as he is taken under the wings of one of the top professors of that school, Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Fletcher does not believe in nurturing students with compliments of "good job". He is abusive and pushes students past their comfort zones. The film asks, should teachers be nurturing or should they push students hard?

The movie opens by showing us a little of how Fletcher operates and then quickly cranks up the tension between Andrew and Fletcher. We see that the pupil and teacher are tied together and by the end of the film this is made very clear. The closing sequence is masterful in the use of music and editing of film.

I always liked J.K. Simmons. He's been brilliant and memorable in supporting roles (Spider-man and Terminator Genisys come to mind). If shown a picture, most people would recognize him. I am happy to see him in a main role. He takes this role and elevates it and is what makes this film so engrossing. Miles Teller is equally fantastic in his role and shows the arc of his character's growth. Paul Riser and Melissa Benoist (Supergirl) do a great job with their supporting roles.

I did not know that this film was made on a small budget, and after watching the film, I could not have known. First time director/writer Damien Chazelle, cinematographer Sharone Meir and editor Tom Cross make this film look fantastic. The editor Cross deserves extra kudos for the tight editing of the film.

Watch Whiplash? Yes, a resounding yes. This is one of the best films I have see in a while.


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