Two stand-out central performances make Oscar hopeful Whiplash a thrilling – and terrifying – ride. Review by Yosra Osman.
In his latest work, Damien Chazelle addresses the lengths to which an artist might go to be the best at their craft. His conclusion: they’ll go pretty far.
Whiplash is an energetic film that grabs one of its drumsticks and beats you over the head with such vivacity you’ll be left dazed, but astounded at the end.
The plot is simple enough: Miles Teller plays Andrew Neyman, a gifted drummer at the fictional Schaffer Academy who is determined to be one of the jazz greats. JK Simmons plays Terrence Fletcher, the instructor of the school’s leading jazz ensemble. When Neyman joins Fletcher’s band, he finds himself subjected to some rather unorthodox methods of teaching.
“There are no two words more harmful than ‘good job’” Simmons says in one scene, supposedly trying to justify his acts of terror. You think The Babadook is the scariest thing you’ve seen recently? Wait till you see Simmons tell his panicked student that the drumming is not quite at his tempo. It will terrify you.
The two lead performances in this film are real standouts: Simmons is physically and psychologically imposing, justifiably getting plenty of awards attention for playing the monstrous instructor. Teller is equally extraordinary as the determined student who will stop at nothing to get to the top. The relationship between these characters is what drives the film and the two play off each other spectacularly.
In addition, much of the film’s brilliance lies in its first-rate editing, as well as Chazelle’s electric direction. Other than a slightly underdeveloped storyline involving one of the only female characters in the film, there are few flaws. BAFTA’s decision to nominate Chazelle in the ultra-competitive Best Director category is a welcome and inspired choice.
If you choose to see Whiplash this week (and you should), be prepared for an engaging, powerful and thrilling cinematic experience, of which the last 10 minutes will leave you exhausted, yet exhilarated. And the music’s not too shabby either.
Definitely one of the best films to come out of this year’s awards season crop.
Yosra Osman is a mid-twenties film fan and self-confessed daydreamer of dangerous proportions