Miles Teller as Andrew Neiman
J. K. Simmons as Terence Fletcher
Paul Reiser as Jim Neiman
Melissa Benoist as Nicole
Director: Damien Chazelle
Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is an ambitious young jazz drummer, in pursuit of rising to the top of his elite music conservatory. Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), an instructor known for his terrifying teaching methods, discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into the top jazz ensemble, forever changing the young man’s life. But Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher pushes him to the brink of his ability and his sanity.
I remember when I first saw Whiplash in early 2015, I had been hearing all of the hype and acclaim that it has been receiving and I figured I should watch it since it was being nominated for some awards. All I really knew going in was it was pretty much about a jazz drummer, with a somehow even grumpier J. Jonah Jameson being really mean as the jazz teacher. That’s what the mindset I had going into the movie, and I really didn’t know what to expect outside of that. I was not prepared for how phenomenally great this movie would be. Whiplash remains one of the most affecting movies I have ever seen and one of my most memorable movie experiences.
At an hour and 46 minutes in length, Whiplash is riveting from start to finish. I literally could not do anything else but watch until the movie had ended, and I can’t say that about too many movies. The idea about people being pushed (and pushing themselves) to perfection is definitely one of the most present ideas throughout the movie, and it’s really explored by both its main characters. It can be anxiety inducing and uncomfortable at points, however you just can’t look away, I just had to know how the everything would end. It also has one of the best third acts I have seen a film to date, so incredibly exhilarating, thrilling and satisfying. By the end I just felt very exhausted in the best way possible.
Miles Teller doesn’t get enough praise for his performance here, he’s often overshadowed by his co-star J.K. Simmons, who I’ll get to in a minute. Teller’s Andrew Neiman is not meant to necessarily be likable. However, you can still somewhat understand why he does the things that he does and you are right alongside him throughout his journey and change over the course of the movie. This is the best performance that Miles Teller has given in his career thus far and I do wish that more attention went towards his work here. When people usually think of Whiplash, even if they haven’t seen it themselves yet, they usually think of J.K. Simmons. His performance is outstanding and commands such an intimidating presence whenever he’s on screen. He can be extremely intense and scary when he flips out on people but he could be even funny at points. It’s for sure one of the most memorable supporting performances I’ve ever seen in a movie. Other supporting actors like Paul Reiser as Andrew’s father and Melissa Benoist as Andrew’s girlfriend also play their roles very well in their scenes.
Damian Chazelle directed this movie extremely well, it is so incredibly well edited and put together. The music naturally was fantastic, so well applied to the movie. While yes, the story itself is riveting, Whiplash wouldn’t work without Chazelle’s handle of the whole movie. It is a movie about Jazz and drumming, but Chazelle made all these scenes so incredibly entertaining and thrilling.
While 2014 was a year full of fantastic films with the likes of Interstellar, Birdman and Gone Girl, Whiplash is my favourite film of that year. It was completely riveting, and with Damien Chazelle’s phenomenal direction and writing, and fantastic performances from both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, I absolutely loved it. It’s been 4 years since I first saw the movie and the effect it had on me still hasn’t worn off. Chazelle would continue to make more films, with La La Land and First Man also being excellent films, and I can’t wait to see even more from him. However, Whiplash is still for me his best film to date.