Its definitely been a long old while since I’ve seen a movie where I’ve sat back whilst the credits rolled and thought ‘that was perfect’. Even some of my favourite releases of the past few years, such as Drive, Bronson or Out Of The Furnace, whilst being extremely good on the whole, still have some small nagging imperfections that I try to just pretend are not there, which as you well know in the film community is known as being a stupid denialist fuckwit and I’ve no business whatsoever reviewing movies if I don’t even possess the psychological maturity to analyse things honestly and correctly. Or something along those lines.
Whiplash is a very welcome and fantastic light in the road of ‘99% Brilliant Movies’. It’s fucking 110. When a movie is so superb for the initial hour, I have this annoying, seemingly inescapable tendency to think its going to start waining in the final acts. Not even close. It is utter pitch perfection, in the acting, the dialogue, the cinematography, the developments in plot and last but not least in the music, which is handy as its only the focal point of the entire work.
Andrew Niemann (played by absurdly talented Miles Teller) is a 19 year old upstart at New York City’s Schaffer Conservatory, one of the most prestigious music schools in the U.S. He’s a nice kid, in a Holden Caulfield sort of way, and an absolutely shit-hot drummer, it being his aspiration to be mentioned in the same breath as jazz drummers such as Buddy Rich and the like, who happens to be Andrew’s personal hero. A really refreshing aspect of the movie is that Teller’s real life drumming skills are the dog’s bollocks, as many directors seem to enjoy making movies about music and having the protagonistic actor as someone who can’t handle their instrument for shit
So yeh, things are going pretty cool for Andrew, nice girl in his life, making good music, he’s pretty chilled. Except for one small problem. Well actually, its a pretty fucking big problem. And it looks like this
Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) is a senior conductor at Schaffer and the leader of it’s top jazz ensemble. he is a very honest and thorough man, with an expert knowledge of jazz and a keen eye for talent, and he recruits Andrew into his band after noticing his great potential. The only lingering drawback is that Fletcher is a violent sociopath. Everyone has their crosses to bear I suppose. But seriously, this guy is a drill instructor who likes music just a little bit more than I’d presume he likes war. If you’re in tune and in tempo, it’s a proud grin and a thumbs up. If not, it’s chair-throwing, drum kit-destroying, face-slapping, eye-popping verbal abuse mayhem. Intense is not the word for this guy. And the film does that annoying thing where you kind of like him, if for no better reason than the fact that a lot of the personal insults he incorporates into his tirades are absolutely hilarious. If you’re a very sick, twisted fuck like myself 🙂
I can’t really exposit anymore without spoiling anything, all I’ll say is that the film is essentially a battle of wills between Fletcher and pretty much everybody, with Andrew vowing to earn his respect and approval, regardless of sacrifice. Not only does the story move at an absolutely perfect pace, the film completely subverts typical plot tropes and cliches, the raw story of the underdog playing out almost as if it were a psychological horror. A harrowing drama with touches of black comedy, where motivations are totally suspect and events are entirely unpredictable, if you pass up the opportunity to see this, you are a total douchebag. 100/10.