Miles Teller plays Andrew, a jazz drumming student who strives to be one of the greats, but to do so, he must endure the torturous teaching methods of his conductor played by J.K Simmons, who believes the only way to achieve inner greatness is to be pushed to your very limits.
Miles Teller and J.K Simmons go head to head in a student/teacher relationship that resembles "Full Metal Jacket". "Whiplash" is unflinchingly brutal in its execution. One day during practice, Terence Fletcher (Simmons) walks in on Andrew (Teller) practicing on the drums and decides that he wants him to join his jazz band. Andrew of course accepts the offer unaware of what torture he is about to be put through.
Andrew's first lesson could not have been a bigger shock to him, when not matching Fletcher's tempo, a chair gets hurled across the room at him and what follows is unimaginable. Fletcher starts to devour Andrew emotionally until he can't take it anymore.
Miles Teller showed us what talent he had in "The Spectacular Now" two years ago, showing us that he's not just the frat boy from all those juvenile comedies, he has some acting chops. Teller is electrifying in "Whiplash", not only with his superb performance, but also his talent on the drum set, which he puts to tremendous use in this film. Equally as fantastic is J.K Simmons, who overshadows Teller with his dark, frightening and sometimes humorous performance as an excruciatingly vicious teacher. This is one of the best performances of 2014 by far, and is fully deserving of his Oscar nomination, lets just hope he wins!
Fletcher is portrayed as a drill sergeant type character, the bald head, an imposing figure and he pushes Andrew because he sees so much potential in him. We as the audience are left to decide whether or not what he is going is right or not.
Damian Chazelle, who doesn't have a lot of directing experience shows talent that directors who've done more than 20 feature films should aspire for. His direction here is inspiring, crafting a story of a boy who strives for greatness and won't let anything stop him. Andrew is a very closeted person, he has trouble expressing his passion for drumming to his family who don't take it seriously. He becomes even more shut off when he devotes all of his time to learning songs to earn his part on Fletcher's band.
The psychological and at times physical battle between Andrew and Fletcher is captivating and brutal, Fletcher is a mean, vile man, who is still shown to have some humanity, making him a perfect antagonist. The rivalry builds and builds up to a shocking and pulse pounding finale that is without a doubt my favorite of the 2014. Its finale 10 minutes were so emotionally powerful, I was literally on the edge of my seat for the entire finale.
"Whiplash" combines the psychological agony of "Black Swan" along with the brutality of "Full Metal Jacket" into a fast paced thriller that is unlike anything you've ever seen. This may seem to be a film just about drumming but it plays out like a fast paced thriller, that will leave you breathless.
Tom Cross edited the film and if he doesn't win the Oscar then I will be very, very upset. His editing style starts off as incredibly jarring, but it becomes more natural over time. Dialogue scenes being edited with the same ferocity as the drumming sections. This is one of the most beautifully edited films I have ever seen.
The film is also shot to perfection, Chazelle going in for extreme close ups of Andrew's drum set, showing us the literal blood, sweat and tears that Teller is pouring into his performance. The finale is shot like a battle scene, the camera rapidly switching between Simmons and Teller.
There are scenes which add levels of humanity to Fletcher, but whenever he is orchestrating that band, he puts on his game face and pushes each and every one of his students to their very limit.
"Whiplash" is a masterfully orchestrated piece of film by Chazelle that deserves every accolade it gets. Its brutal, funny, powerful and relentlessly entertaining!