Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist
This is not a film about music. It is a film about pure ambition, hard work, perseverance and raw determination. It is magnetic, radical and profound. And thousands of people are delirious about it. I don't blame them.
Let's start from scratch. This is the story of Andrew, a 19-year-old ambitious drummer attending one of the most prestigious music schools in the country. He is talented and smart and he knows it. But Andrew has no idea how to socialize. He spends his free time practicing with his drums or watching films with his dad. His only worry is to become the greatest of the greatest.
Fletcher is the most infamous teacher of the school, tough and constantly angry, he coordinates a band where only the best enter. Everyone is scared to death for him, he pushes students physically and mentally to the edge, he is fearless but most of all he is necessary for anyone who dreams a career in music. He is the connection, the one who can make it happen.
Andrew knows about Fletcher and knows that endless possibilities unfold when it comes to his band. He would do anything in order to enter. And he does. But the pressure is too much. Fletcher follows humiliating practices towards anyone who either disobeys him or makes one mistake during practice. His methods can be described as at least barbaric.
But somehow this works. Especially with the band. They keep on participating in big contests and working as hard as ever. Maybe it is the fear of the students that keeps them going without complaining or probably the fact that he pushes a person till he gets the best out of him. Either way they are aware of his power on them. One word and their possible career is over. They only obey. And the worst? He knows it more than anyone. And he abuses this power.
Andrew creates a unique relationship with Fletcher. He is submissive to his remarks and abuse but soon he will start resisting. He will stop obeying. Till the guy finally notices him. Till Fletcher finally recognizes his worth. This seemingly endless kind of game has its ups and downs. When you think it is going good between them, something happens and f***s up your brain and everything turns to the raw fragility of the beginning.
"Whiplash" opens a constant and very intense conversation about surpassing any kind of obstacles or difficulties but mostly yourself and your limits in order to accomplish your goals. It is full with competitive attitude, the one necessary for achieving. It is testing your limits like Fletcher is testing his students'.
Even though it is Damien Chazelle's debut, he has already shown a craft and ambition that I personally salute. The rigorous rhythm of the film focuses on Andrew and Fletcher's relationship, cutting out all the others, revealing through tight close-ups extraordinary performances by both of his leading actors. J.K. Simmons has just won the Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for his supreme performance and along with Miles Teller they are marching towards this year's Oscars.
Andrew and Fletcher's relationship is purely poisonous and stimulating at the same time. Andrew is craving for Fletcher's recognition, he wants to be the next great jazz drummer and this is his greatest motivation; he desperately needs Fletcher's acceptance. Fletcher sees Andrew's potential and helps him, but with his perverted methods he only play games with him, aiming exclusively to push him harder to the very edge, to his own best.
Through constant drumming, a tempo fury and unexpected events rising up to a pure catharsis, "Whiplash" does make the difference. It winks violently at you proving how a big dream is never big enough and no matter the mistakes and disappointments, the delays and drawbacks, if you share this flaming perseverance and determination anything - ANYTHING - is possible. Thank you, Damien Chazelle, for reminding us that.