By Peter Ede (Reel Reviews, Bexhill-On-Sea)
I decided to check out a high rated film on IMDB and found Whiplash and I thought it deserved every piece of achievement it got. The film related to me on a personal level as I am myself a drummer but also on a physical level as it makes the audience possess “fire” to attain what they want to become in life. The narrative was different, it all revolved around a person’s hobbies with little detail on background information. Not only did this add to the thrilling plot, but it made the audience unaware and hardly know this person as little characteristics were given away.
The setting, construction and lighting of the scenes were a delight to endure, especially in the fast paced drumming scenes and the slow motion effects to alter time in quick fire camera movements. It developed a love hate relationship between the conductor and the pupil whilst gradually converting into a family position of a father and son bond, metaphorically speaking. In this film, Andrew Neeman wants to aim to be a successful drummer. However, when Fletcher, the conductor for the top jazz band, trials him for a main part, Andrew finds he has to get far better on his instrument to meet his standards.
The two characters, Andrew and Fletcher, meeting and understanding each other opened the film’s path that the audience were following. The audience don’t expect so much tension and empathy to emit from a typical jazz band practice which makes it surprising due to Fletcher’s actions. It’s as if we are witnessing an army briefing as Fletcher is tough looking, foul mouthed, offensive and precise. I loved how the scene quickly alternates between having no buildup of characters which throws two unknown people into a heated moment, to the audience making a decision on whether they like or hate them towards the end. The scene sets up the audience into having an early opinion of Fletcher which is contradicted later on in some viewer’s eyes.
With lines such as “Andrew, just do your best.” to “No wonder your mummy ran out on you” shows how fast the situation can alter and that this film is chronologically focused on the failure to achieve, symbolised through Andrew. Whilst Fletcher had comical innuendos, this is the only positive connection the audience can make with him due to his hilarity. However, the nice side is blurred, out of range and disappearing through Fletcher’s anger of things not going right, which mirrored the atmosphere of “it has to work how I want it to work”, taking over the scene whilst Fletcher delivers it to a high standard.
Andrew and Fletcher, both being separated far in terms of age adds to this film’s atmosphere. Andrew is determined and is focused on the “I want” strategy with his dreams whilst Fletcher is demanding and has the “respect your elders” presence evidently shown in his precision of walking in when the clock hits exactly nine. The audience are introduced to their attitudes as not working and clashing, yet as the film unravels, it works together musically rather than socially as Fletcher can push students to their limits “I was trying to push students further than what they’re capable of, and that, to me, is a necessity!”
Andrew’s chance to go higher up in his dreams boosts his confidence in other parts of the film such as asking a girl on a date or standing up to Fletcher. Fletcher however, absorbs this confidence and belittles Andrew to a worthless musician “you’re done!” The more Andrew succeeds, the better they’re relationship becomes. It falls into a father and son category as they both want the other to be impressed, which is presented to the audience in a manner that we can understand, by placing characteristics of fatherly affections into the narrative. I loved the portrayal of these two characters.
In terms of technical codes and framework, it took a lot of effort to set up the scenes such as having an orchestra, an expensive drum kit and the venues to play in. Facial expressions, portrayed in extreme close up shots were the justification of a character’s physical energy as well as they’re emotional state, such as Andrew trying to play faster and his exhaustion to do so. Tracking shots were used to show professionalism in the practice scenes, showing the expense of the equipment, mirroring the high position Andrew gets to.
Contrasting to his tatty drum kit, the narrative presents the change of social class, musically speaking which is shown in depth to the audience. The backing track is constantly jazzy drum beats which keeps us in a musical mood, helping us to adjust to the film in a more relaxing way. This being in every scene is not only a filler to thread each scene to the next but it is a constant reminder of what the film is about, a character chasing a musical dream and I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation of this through the camerawork. Very uniquely filmed.
Whiplash is one of the best films I’ve seen due to its independence and stand out effect to other narratives. It rushing straight in to the plot makes the audience think that without background information, it isn’t going to work, but we learn that this is what makes the whole film. Scenes featuring Fletcher and Andrew are tense, comical and possess characteristics of a father and son relationship which was the film’s moving side.
The camerawork presented a musical aspiration for a character whilst keeping the audience calm, relaxed and dedicated to pursuing the narratives’ outcomes. I loved this film with a passion and felt that I could relate to it whilst constantly reminding anyone who witnesses, to go for their dreams and follow the long journey to it. A fantastic film and I definitely recommend it.