The feeling of determination is an incredible thing. This is what we witness in Damien Chazelle's powerful semi-autobiographical story 'Whiplash.' No film of its kind has been made so accurately or with as much substance.
Miles Teller, in a breakthrough role, plays Andrew Neiman, a young jazz drummer trying to make a career path while attending school at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York. He has more of a shy side, as we witness in one of his first scenes when he shows interest in a girl working in a movie theater. However, he channels all his energy into his music. When the school's most ruthless teacher Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) finds he has what it takes to take him under his wing for his jazz band competitions, he agrees. But, the teachings of Fletcher prove to be a much harder feat than he could imagine.
The film is gloriously told from newcomer Chazelle who adapted the story from a short film he made with Simmons (inspired by events that actually happened in his own life). Teller performs the lead role with dedication and panache.
The film's focus however is as much on Simmons as it is Teller and for good reason. The character of Fletcher is every bit as intriguing as the story. Simmons, an always excellent character-actor, is perfect. So much so, that his performance is the best of any kind this year. Absolutely no one else could make a moviegoer this tense, or send them through as many wavelengths of emotion that Simmons does.
The jazz tunes in the film provide an excellent backdrop and play a part in the film's tension as well. Another unique touch that is played just right. As a musician, I identified with the teachings of a harsh instructor and the repercussions it can have on a performance.
'Whiplash' is the story of determination and self-sacrifice with Simmons in the best performance of his career; one of the best films of the year.
Winner of 3 Oscars: Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons), Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing.