Whiplash is a drama directed by Damien Chazelle starring Miles Teller as Andrew, a young jazz drummer at Shaffer Conservatory music school, who is accepted into the studio band conducted by the formidable Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) and desperately seeks his approval. Loosely based on director Chazelle being in a jazz band at school, this is an intense and brilliant film.
The two main actors, Teller and Simmons are on top form. Teller superbly portrays the freshman Andrew who struggles to the point of drawing blood to be the best jazz drummer he can be. Through Teller’s performance it is easy to see his determination is astounding and at times shocking (he tackles Fletcher at a competition in rage). But it is J.K. Simmons who steals the film. Completely unlike anything I have seen before, Simmons is perfect as Fletcher, the driven, terrifying perfectionist who provides the most excellent insults for his students. In the final act, you’re on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what Fletcher might do, how he will react. It’s wonderful to watch.
Being a film about a jazz drummer, you are sure to expect some brilliant music. With the mixture of passionate talent from Andrew and the precision Fletcher requires from the music, it is a mix of jazz music that makes you tap your toes, and hold your breath in suspense at the same time.
From an award winning short, to a screenplay on the Black List, Whiplash is an adrenaline filled film that uses its cinematography and editing to add to the music and the characters, keeping in time to the beat of the drumming. With stand out performances and gorgeous jazz music, this film is by far more than the worst two words in the English language (as Fletcher states) a “good job.” This is personal, vibrant and simply brilliant.