Starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons
Directed by Damien Chazelle
IMDB Rating: 8.7
This movie is a brutal yet beautiful and realistic look at how far the desire to become successful can take you.
Andrew Neiman is a 19-year-old jazz drummer who desperately wants to become a great drummer. Neiman attends Shaffer Conservatory, the best music school in the country. Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) is the jazz band leader who uses abusive behavior in order to place fear into his students. This behavior includes both verbal and physical abuse. For example, he throws a chair at Neiman the first time he plays the drums in front of him for not being on the correct tempo. Then he slaps Andrew over and over when he isn’t drumming fast enough. Andrew becomes swept up in his drumming desires and slowly but surely losses his mind.
The story may seem kind of boring. It’s about a kid going to music school – how interesting can it be? You’d be surprised how interesting this particular film is. The story itself is well written and established but it really takes seeing the movie for yourself to see it be brought to life. The part of Terence Fletcher is an epic one. A music teacher who shamelessly pushes his students to the edge. His intentions are clear – he wants them to be the best and he wants to uphold his reputation but his teaching methods are clearly all wrong. Andrew Neiman is a relatable character who desperately wants something – he just lets his desire of wanting to be the best control him in the worst way.
J.K. Simmons has been known previously for his work in movies like Juno and other funny supporting roles. I have never seen him act in a serious role quite like this. I think he showed tremendous acting abilities and truly became a monster here. He wasn’t pure evil – he showed human qualities as well which is what made it so incredible to watch. Miles Teller also had a breakout role here with Andrew Neiman. He earned acclaim with his role in The Spectacular Now and I think he’s taking that even a step further with his role in Whiplash.
I’m impressed with Damien Chazelle because he directed and wrote this movie. More than that, he believed in this movies story. It started out as just a short film but gradually was made into a complete film which then received rave reviews at Sundance. He wrote the movie based on his own experience at music school. He took his music teacher and completely intensified the role that J.K. Simmons plays. Even though it’s only his second directing experience, he shows endless potential to be a great director in the future.
Overall, this movie is intense and at sometimes hard to watch. It’s about being driven to the brink and it can be interesting to watch this type of movie. I definitely think this is one of the greatest movies from 2014. Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons bring to life the role of teacher and student with incredible intensity and real tangible chemistry there. You sympathize with both of these characters and get to see the growth of both of them right before your eyes.
Review written by Rachel Geiger