Whiplash is directed by Damien Chazelle (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench) and stars Miles Teller (Divergent Series, That Awkward Moment) and a multi-award winning performance from J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man, The Closer). 'A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential'. Whiplash won 3 Oscars and was nominated for Best Picture - should we believe the hype?
We definitely should believe the hype! Whiplash is an excellent film. Whiplash is like a body in perfect condition with one small bruise and that minor issue is that I didn't ever feel wowed until the very end - I would have liked more of this to be able to give it 5 stars which I really wanted to do. Other than that little issue, Whiplash is perfect - I can't flaw it.
The story is very simple but very effective. To begin with, it comes across as a 'band version' of Pitch Perfect or Glee - a guy joins a band and they compete and want to get to the highest point. However, there is much more to the plot than this - it becomes tense and uncomfortable to watch at times. What I liked is that Chazelle was able to balance the tension with enjoyment - this is something Foxcatcher did not do successfully and I found that too uncomfortable and tense to watch. Nightcrawler is another example of the discomfort being balanced well with the excitement of the film. Whiplash also has a few twists and turns which are good - Whiplash really does feel like an independent film that got its big break (probably because that is what it is) - unlike The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel or even American Sniper which I feel were set up to succeed, Whiplash was definitely the underdog of the past awards season and rightly so!
The acting in this film is definitely the highlight - it is on another level. I'm going to start with Miles Teller who I feel didn't get much love this past awards season and I believe he deserved to! Teller was brilliant in his role and really showed diversity - playing a talented drummer/teenage boy but also an obsessed and determined young man. After some research, I found out that it is actually Teller playing the drums throughout the film which is once again fantastic! - the drum playing was another stand out moment from the film and it really amazes and pleases me that Teller executed such talent himself. Hey, if acting doesn't work out in a few years, he could go and be the drummer for a band? Now for the man that everyone was talking about - J.K. Simmons. I now completely understand why he got so much praise and acclaim for his performance - he was brutal but fantastic at it. He was mesmerising - he didn't seem phased at all and really got into his role. Simmons' character had a big part in brining tension to the film - even at the end when things seem to be working out, I still felt tension when he moved as I didn't know if he was going to carry out an aggressive action or not - superb acting!
I'm going to focus now on the areas the film got its other Oscars: Sound and Editing. I really thought that the diegetic sound of the drums seamlessly became the score for the tension also. It was great to see that this transition was executed brilliantly. Music is such a big part of this film and it was done very well. The editing was also very smooth and well done. I really liked during the final sequence where the camera would cut from Teller to Simmons in a really indescribable but unique way. Whiplash deserved both of these awards.
Whiplash came out of Blumhouse which is known for producing horror films - Whiplash is definitely not a horror but it has some moments that are horrific and discomforting to watch - this isn't a bad thing but definitely adds to the chemistry created between the two characters. It is scary to think how far someone will go to please people and chase their dreams.
Whiplash is pitch perfect - the sound mixing is on point and the editing is seamless. The acting is on another level with outstanding performances from Simmons as well as Teller. Chazelle has really made his name on the directing scene and has entered with a bang of a drum. Whiplash is pretty much flawless and is a really exciting, enjoyable but at times discomforting film. You will applaud at the end. Definitely one of the best films of 2014 and possibly of the best of all time! - Unique, Mellifluous, Superb - It Whips All Competition, A Masterpiece!