By Spencer Stechman (Phoenix, Arizona)
A lot can be said about this hell and back movie that’s called Whiplash. The only way I could define this movie would be a distorted underdog story to be perfectly honest with you. Even when the protagonist of the movie, Andrew (played by Miles Teller) gets his breakthrough and the very end of the movie you still question the very part of it. End all be all the protagonist did well when can go home all smiles right? That’s where the antagonist of the film comes in and takes all the butterflies and sunshine away.
Fletcher (J.K Simmons) a brutally hard to like jazz teacher is one of the most psychological abusive characters put to screen. A bully of the mind and body who hurls chairs and slurs at anyone who comes in his way of throwing of the prestigious crown Fletcher has built for the University from the ground up. The thing is Fletcher doesn’t care about all that, whether he gets rewards or as he’s regarded of the best it means nothing to him. He only puts his students through this type of verbal and physical assault to build them as musicians.
You can feel the power and the intimidation factor Fletcher gives off from the opening scene, with Andrew practicing away on his drum set and in he walks. He asks for Andrew to play in a certain time and when he can’t do it Fletcher walks out without saying a word. The pain that Andrew goes through just to satisfy his teacher is unbearable and to see it unfold in front of your very eyes makes you hate Fletcher even more with every scene. His actions make him a clear antagonist and it makes you dislike the hell out of the guy but the thing is his goals make him a likable if you see it from the front. He wants his students to succeed and reach their maximum potential. His ways of getting there see so out of whack but it couldn’t be matched another way.
My favorite quote from the movie is where Fletcher and Andrew are sitting eye to eye to each other and he just says, “There are no two words in the English langue more harmful than good job.” To me this truly encapsulates what Fletcher is all about, a good job is like the participation award. It solves nothing and only holds you back from wanting more out of yourself. That’s what Fletchers job is as a teacher is all about, maximizing his student’s potential. So whether it be Physical or Psychological pain it’s the students that get the most out of it… it’s just really hard to comprehend.
So like I said at the begging with at the very end and Andrew having his breakthrough and you still question it, it’s that could Andrew have made all that way without Fletchers help and if so who wins? The torturous teacher or the enduring student? Either way J. K Simmons did such an incredible job in the movie that he did win the Oscar for best supporting actor. Both J.K and Miles did such a fantastic job at living their part they make it unforgettable. The premise was absolutely fantastic and in my opinion it has one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard.