Film Review: Whiplash

Monday 16 February 2015 by

Whiplash, Film, J.K. Simmons, Miles Teller, Drumming

From wrestling to another film about something I know nothing of – drumming. More specifically: jazz drumming. Whiplash tells the story of Andrew and his fight to become the greatest drummer that lives. But he must compete against the psychotic training of Fletcher and his unnatural measures.

Andrew (Miles Teller) is neurotic, determined to a fault and actually a bit of a pain. But if he’s an unsympathetic character, Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) is much worse. For a film about the characters, they are remarkably dislikeable.

But the film is about the music as well; and the music is outstanding, even for someone who doesn’t “get” jazz. I am astounding by the skill of the musicians (were they musicians first and actors second, I wonder?) and the drums runs through the film like a pulse. It builds and wanes with each tremulous confrontation.

This is perhaps a thriller in more ways than Foxcatcher. The struggle of wills between Fletcher and Andrew is almost too much to bear, and the crescendo, when it comes, had my heart in my mouth.

I’m not entirely sure why I enjoyed this film as it is completely against anything I would usually enjoy or choose. But there is something totally compelling about this story, and the vicious characters that it centres around. There is something fascinating about this world I know nothing about and yet consumes these characters.

It’s hard to commit much more than that, because it takes watching to understand; more so than any of the other films I’ve watched recently. It is thrilling and overwhelming, with a heavy dose of wit. You can see the passion in every scene, and it makes you want to join in.

If you don’t leave the cinema wanting to drum every surface, then you have not been watching the same film.

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