If you’ve been following the awards season, you know that J.K. Simmons has won every conceivable award for his supporting actor performance in Whiplash. There are so many other reasons, though, to watch this film.
Miles Teller plays Andrew, a highly motivated young drummer who is a student at a prestigious music conservatory. The role of Fletcher, the instructor who leads the jazz ensemble there, is owned by J.K., and he completely draws himself and the audience into his character. Fletcher’s methods of “encouraging” his students are intense and often abusive. Andrew is the perfect target, wanting so much to excel and to please.
The unsung hero of the movie, however, is Miles Teller. As a foil to Fletcher’s almost violent intensity, is Andrew’s internal churnings. While we observe Fletcher’s one-note villain, Teller imbues Andrew with complexity and nuance.
In addition to the acting, the story captures the viewer and doesn’t let go. Like a great piece of music, Whiplash builds and builds; at its conclusion I was left fairly stunned.
This is writer/director Damien Chazelle’s second movie. He also wrote and directed Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (we do have that one at the store), but probably the only one to have seen it is maybe Chazelle himself. I’m now motivated to check it out, having seen his outstanding accomplishment in Whiplash.
Whiplash reminded me of how very good Miles Teller was in The Spectacular Now. He crafts, along with Shailene Woodley, a wonderful relationship movie. It’s well worth viewing, if you haven’t already.
And Whiplash is not to be missed. It’s in the top half dozen best movies of 2014. Lots of jazz music, but you don’t have to be a particular fan to appreciate all of what this film has to offer. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 2/24/15