The road to greatness can take you to the edge; a review of Whiplash (2014)


I don’t all the time in the world for this review which kinda sucks because I have a lot to say on this movie; but who knows maybe I’ll be able to type this fast and get all my thoughts on paper.

Whiplash (2014) stars Miles Teller as Andrew, a young drummer who enrolls in a cut-throat music conservatory run by Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons who will stop at nothing to realize his students’ potential; and sometimes that means being a little cruel and unusual. The film is directed by Damien Chazelle. Chazelle actually made a short film called Whiplash and submitted it to Sundance in 2013. After receiving a lot of acclaim, Chazelle got the funding to turn his short into a feature.

I didn’t really know much going into the movie and with all the word on the street about J.K. Simmon’s performance (Backed by his nomination for best supporting actor), I figured I’d give the movie a shot (It’s also nominated for best picture). Well, I’m not lying when I say that this is my new favorite movie of 2014. Before, I was at a crossroad deciding whether it should be Gone Girl (2014) or Guardians of the Galaxy (2014); but one thing that this film did was it kept it as simple as it could while still captivating me and making me care about these characters and admire their quirks and whims with one another.

I haven’t seen a lot that Miles Teller is in, but I will say that I was more than pleased with his performance. He played the classic protagonist with a goal and obstacles getting in his way. That main obstacle is himself, but the personification of that is indeed Simmons’ character.

Simmons will no doubt take home the award for best supporting actor. I have ZERO doubt in my mind that he is a lock. Whenever he was on screen, his presence and demeanor gave me chills, anxiety, excitement, anger, and anything in between. I always knew he could shout thanks to the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies; but this film takes it to a whole other level.

WhiplashThe movie also boasts some of the best camerawork and editing that I haven’t seen in a while from a small budget picture like this. The images and use of cuts really helped carry this story just as much as the characters did. I lost count of how many times I’d think to myself, “Wow, that was a really cool shot!” It’s one thing to angle a camera all fancy and whatnot just to toot your own horn; but to do such a thing so that it benefits the story and helps carry the picture as a whole, THAT is something truly special.

In a perfect world, Whiplash (2014) would win best picture; but the Academy unfortunately overlooks gems like this more often than not (Just like they did to Her (2013) last year). I highly recommend you watch this film, especially if you are a film student such as myself who was easily inspired by such a captivating story with such minimal production. You can have the biggest actors and the most flashy visual effects and booming soundtrack, sure; but it doesn’t even compare to a well-written and well-executed story. I think back to one of my favorite film professors who always told myself along with the rest of the class to, “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” (K.I.S.S.)

Overall Rating: 9/10 – Amazing

Incredible storytelling; wonderful camerawork and editing style; Miles Teller is great and J.K. Simmons will win supporting actor without a doubt. Even if you aren’t into drums and jazz, there’s enough here for anybody to enjoy.



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