Whiplash (2014): A Film Review

IMDB: 8.5/ 10

This fast paced and intense movie was certainly at beat with the jazz music that accompanied most of the film. The film primarily follows the story of young musician Andrew Neimann (MIiles Teller) who enrolls in an extremely intense music conservatory and finds himself driven by an abusive music instructor, Fletcher (J.K. Simmons).

 

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J.K. Simmons as Fletcher.

I appreciate this film as it discusses quite important ideas such as passion that soon turned into an obsession. Neimann is an aspiring jazz drummer with an immense passion and an unwavering determination. His love towards music is beyond what we would expect to be normal for a person, to an extent that his passion eventually consumes him. His unhealthy practice schedule in the film was certainly eye- opening as it made me think about the thin line between sheer determination and obsession. Neimann’s obsession made him practice on his drum kits until his hands bleed, he would sometimes destroy his drum kits due to frustration and his devotion towards his practice hours also prevents him from getting adequate rest that his body so desperately needed.

 

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Miles Teller as Andrew Neimann

On the other hand, instructor Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) is an extremely straightforward man who speaks his mind, even to the extent of deliberately insulting his students to unlock their full potential. His music conservatory is said to be one of the best in the country and his unconventional teaching methods seems to be acceptable as hundreds of young musicians line up, auditioning to be a part of Fletcher’s unbeatable music program. I found Fletcher’s abusive attitude absolutely unacceptable: many young musicians under Fletcher’s program were in tears as they fear his torment and criticism. Unfortunately, Fletcher was not scared to use force when he conducts his musicians, he physically hurts them when they make mistakes. Later in the film, he justifies his actions towards Neimann by explaining that his intentions were only to make his musicians unlock their fullest potential even if that needs him to be physically and psychologically abusive towards his students.

 

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However, in spite of the dark theme I absolutely enjoyed how the movie was so beautifully made. The accompanying jazz soundtrack was definitely one of the best highlights of the film as it introduced me to the dazzling culture of jazz music. On top of that, the dynamic between Teller and Simmons was undeniably powerful, both of their performances were impressive, Simmons definitely deserves his golden Oscar statue for Best Supporting Actor in this film. This movie was nominated for Best Picture at the 2015 Academy Awards but lost to Inaritu’s Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Ultimately, the movie was well written accompanied by an interesting soundtrack and strengthen by a wonderful cast of credible actors.

All in all, even though the movie was not a box office hit, I am glad that it received recognition by film associations as well as film critics that it so rightfully deserves. This film made me think about obsession, psychological torment and also the morality of an educator abusing his students. Alas, the film left me with questions to ponder upon even long after the credits started rolling and the closing theme started playing. This film is definitely one of those movies that you just have to watch for yourself for the full effect of the experience as it was certainly unlike those typical box office hits.

As always, thank you for reading!

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