Whiplash – A nearly perfect film in every way
Written and directed by: Damien Chazelle
Andrew (Teller) is a wide-eyed, young man who is newly enrolled at the best music school in the country. One of his class sessions is interrupted by Fletcher (Simmons) the schools head conductor. Fletcher listens to each section of the freshman band, and tells Andrew to meet him in his rehearsal room the next morning. Does Fletcher spot a genius level of potential in Andrew, or does he simply pick him out as someone he can use his (soon to be seen) torturous methods on? We never truly find out, and that is more than okay.
We watch as Fletcher feeds off of Andrew’s almost insane drive to succeed and become the next Buddy Rich. He relentlessly pushes Andrew to the brink of breaking, and Andrew endures it. Through physical damage and seeming anxiety attacks, he will not quit in his pursuit of greatness. It is the back and forth between Simmons and Teller that is the heart and soul of the film. Simmons recalls memories of Lee Ermey as the insult/profanity hurling Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket”. Some scenes are so emotionally intense that I actually found myself holding my breath and clinching my fists.
Aside from a throw in romance between Andrew and Nicole (Benoist) a girl who works the concession stand at the local movie theater, the story and pacing of the movie are perfect. There is really no part of this movie I didn’t love. The acting is so passionate and the cinematography so beautiful that you feel as if you are in the rehearsal room with them feeling the tension. Both Simmons and Teller deserve any and all accolades they receive for their respective performances.
I was a little late to seeing “Whiplash”, and believe me I am kicking myself for waiting so long to watch it. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and do so now. It is firmly in my top 10 films of 2014. Just amazing!