By Santiago Martinez (Montgomery, TX, USA)
Damien Chazelle, the director of Whiplash, has crafted a masterpiece that anyone can enjoy. JK Simmons is perfect as the role of Mr. Fletcher, a jazz band director that uses extreme methods to push his students, and Miles Teller does a fantastic job at playing Andrew Neiman, a first year drummer aspiring to become one of the greats. The score perfectly fits and enhances every scene in movie, adding a whole new dimension to the already stunning visuals.
Whiplash takes place in present day New York and the lead character is Andrew Neiman, who is a student at the Shaffer Conservatory, which is the best music school in the country, trying to become a jazz drummer that will be renowned for ages to come. At the beginning of the movie, Andrew is in the bottom band or “Nassau”, but not long into the movie, Mr. Fletcher, who is the director of the top band or “Studio Band”, listens to him play and moves him into the top band.
The same day after band practice, Andrew asks the girl that works at the local movie theater whom he’s liked for a while, Nicole, out on a date and she says yes; so things are looking bright for Andrew at this point in the movie. The next day, however, Andrew gets his first real look at Mr. Fletcher and his extreme and condescending attitude in his first day at Studio Band when Fletcher yells at, insults, and kicks someone out of the band because they didn’t know whether they were out of tune, and then throws a chair at, slaps, yells at and insults Andrew for being off tempo. To stop this from happening again, Andrew starts practicing extra hard to the point of making his hands bleed and then some.
He goes on his date with Nicole and everything goes well; then he has a competition in which he gets to play in because he loses the music folder and the core drummer didn’t know the song from memory, which earns Andrew the spot of core drummer. Just as everything is once again looking bright for Andrew, Fletcher brings in an old classmate of Andrew from Nassau, Ryan Connolly, into Studio Band and gives him the part that Andrew had for the upcoming contest, which sends Andrew down a spiral of even more intense practice and measures than before in order to take back his part.
Every single aspect of the movie, from the lighting to the acting to the editing, is exceptionally good and makes the movie stay with the viewer’s mind for some time after they watch it. There are multiple interpretations of the movie’s ending, and thus multiple interpretations of the message, but the one that I most agree with is that if you work at something hard enough and have enough dedication, you can achieve anything.
Whiplash is rated R only because of the use of extreme language, so anyone that can tolerate some insults will undoubtedly enjoy the film, despite the movie being centered around a topic that not many people are into, jazz. Chazelle just knows how to keep on ramping up the tension despite the movie starting out pretty tense, yet he does this while keeping the viewer interested and invested in the story and the characters, making it possibly the most suspenseful drama; and he ties it all in with the perfect ending creating what is to this day my favorite movie of all time. If I had to rate this movie with numbers I would give Whiplash a ten out of ten.