Quick Review: Whiplash (2015)

Whiplash

The road to musical greatness is paved with blood, sweat and a single tear in Damien Chazelle’s enthralling account of an ambitious and single-minded young drummer. 

Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is a determined drummer aspiring to be one of the greats, who is spotted and groomed for an elite jazz band run by the ferocious conductor Terrence Fletcher (J.K Simmons). Simmons is mesmerising in this role, nailing Fletcher as a tyrannical perfectionist, a control freak with no time for pansies lacking in self-belief. With bulging eyes, Fletcher is in full-on drill sergeant mode as he crushes any weak links with put-downs straight from the Gunnery Sgt. Hartman (Full Metal Jacket) school of insults. The master-pupil relationship which develops between the two is fascinating, dangling precariously between father-son and an almost homoerotic sense of admiration. The ultimate lesson for Andrew is that to achieve true musical greatness his mentor must be savagely cruel in his motivation. The biggest sacrifices being are therefore required, both physically and socially. The film conveys this in a beautifully brutal manner, but is also filled with blackly funny, almost absurd moments, underscored by the psycho teacher Fletcher. An outside bet, but Whiplash is neither dragging or rushing and certainly seems to be on tempo for awards season, having secured 5 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

★★★★★     IMDb: 8.7      Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

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