Whiplash is an exhilarating, terrifying, mesmerising, breathtaking, riveting, magnificent piece of cinema – indisputably my favourite film of the past year.
Winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, Damien Chazelle’s feature Whiplash is undoubtedly amazing. The film stars Miles Teller as a young, ambitious jazz drummer who is taken under the apprenticeship of the formidable virtuoso, Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons).Writer-director Chazelle, 29, creates a masterpiece, writing the screenplay during his days as an undergraduate at Harvard University. He remarks that his personal experience as a struggling jazz drummer inspired the story of Whiplash, adding that the creation of Terence Fletcher originated from his own music teacher.
Miles Teller is captivating as the young, wide-eyed Andrew. It was certainly enthralling to watch his energy on screen as Andrew is pushed beyond his limits, to the rugged wounds and blood trickling from his hands, the battle marks of countless hours of painstaking practice. With recent hits such as Divergent and The Spectacular Now, Teller has proven to be a versatile actor; evidenced by his many accolades and box office hits. As the determined Andrew, Teller is electrifying, showcasing his drumming ability, organically harnessed from the age of fifteen.
Widely known for his portrayal as dishonourable J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy, J.K Simmons’ performance as the controlling and borderline abusive musical conductor is captivating, displaying a remarkable commanding presence that is both awe-inspiring and fearsome. Simmons shows sensational versatility as Fletcher; one minute he is weeping over the death of a past student, then swiftly reverts back into the callous conductor. Together, Teller and Simmons showcase mesmerizing chemistry that is undeniably breathtaking – and Oscar-worthy.
The script is exceptionally well written; Chazelle composes a wonderful mix of dramatic yet sardonic dialogue with a simple storyline that is enhanced by the quality of performances by his lead actors. Noticeably, Chazelle favours the use of closeup shots to demonstrate the intensity of the scenes; the film’s incredible finale literally gives viewers whiplash. The astounding conclusion is a clashing of unstable power between the two leads, before ending in musical triumph and questioning of whether a line exists between extreme mastery and catastrophic passion. With original, volatile compositions like “Whiplash” and “Caravan” that elevate the film’s entire tone, Whiplash is cinematic success.
The lifestyle of promising musicians is cutthroat; Whiplash illustrates the underbelly of the world of music. An intense, energetic portrayal of the triumph and tribulations of the lives of aspiring musicians, Whiplash strikes harshly until the savage world of music is understood, if not, drummed into competence.
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