Review: Whiplash

Written by: Dee Pilgrim

Startling, surprising, audacious and astonishing; if there is one movie you really shouldn’t miss this year it is Whiplash, a veritable tornado of a film that has garnered a well deserved five Oscar nominations.

JK Simmons in Whiplash

Forget Fame, a movie about would-be performers – that’s really for the wimps; Whiplash is for the big, bad boys, the ones willing to bleed for their art. The ones who will risk everything to be the best.

One such person is young, aspiring drummer Andrew (Miles Teller), enrolled in a prestigious music academy and dedicated to honing his skills in order to become the next Charlie Parker. Andrew eats, breathes and even dreams drumming and spends his entire existence practicing until sweat smothers the snare and his fingers bleed all over the high hat. But even this isn’t enough for Professor Fletcher (an extraordinary J. K. Simmons) who rides his students like a sadist, feasting on their insecurities, continuously wrong-footing them and inspiring abject terror and awe in equal measures.

Andrew tries his very hardest to be the best he possibly can be for Fletcher, but in Fletcher’s eyes no student will ever aspire to be the next musical genius until he is willing to die for the music – something Andrew comes perilously close to.

As Fletcher toys with his students, taunting them, physically abusing them, chucking drums at their heads, you see a man who has become so obsessed with discovering greatness he has become blind to the damage he is doing. So, will Andrew prove to be his match? Will the student end up teaching his bullying teacher a thing or two?

I’m not telling because this is a film you really do have to see yourself – and on a big screen to boot because it really is like nothing you have ever seen in your life before. It’s like a big bass drum crashing into your stomach, a drumstick wedged in your eye and all this with the volume turned up to 11.

Director Damien Chazelle has created a film with a brand new tempo – fast, unrelenting and a little bit dangerous, and all the more exciting for it.

It is awe-inspiring and awful and so exhilarating you’ll come out the cinema gasping for air just like if you were suffering from whiplash yourself.

Author: Dee Pilgrim

Dee always knew she wanted to make her living from writing and so trained as a journalist before working for a variety of music and women’s titles including Sounds, Company, Cosmopolitan, Ms London, New Woman, and Girl About Town. After going freelance she concentrated on celebrity interviews and film, theatre, music and restaurant reviews. Her love of film goes back to her very first cinema experience at the age of five when her mother took her to see Bambi. She cried. At one time she was the Film Editor for NOW magazine and also the secretary for the film section of the Critics’ Circle and the celebrity coordinator for its annual film awards’ event. She has written a number of books for teenagers through Trotman Publishing, including five Real Life Guides to vocational careers (including Carpentry, Plumbing and Catering), and also three books on Real Life Issues (Money, Bereavement and Self Harm). Her favourite film is still Bladerunner.

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