Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Miles Teller, J. K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist
Chances are you’re aware of Whiplash, and not just in the neck injury sense. After claiming both the Audience and Grand Jury prizes at Sundance the buzz was noteworthy; a heft of well-deserved Golden Globe nominations raised it to frenetic.
Precocious talent Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a jazz drummer studying at the Shaffer Conservatory, the ‘best music school in America’. One late night practice session leads to a somewhat unconventional audition for the school studio band, an outfit presided over by the masterful and sociopathic Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). What follows is an uncomfortable yet captivating examination of the cost of perfection; a cost that rises exponentially on collision with Teller’s untempered ambition. Simmons performance is faultless, his physiognomy by turns a landscape of volatility and then, suddenly, destitute of all emotion.
Shot in just 19 days and only the second film from writer/director Chazelle, it is a remarkable feat. From the second those first slow, steady drumbeats reach your ears, the nervous anticipation begins to build. It will build and build until it devours you in a delirious, painful, satisfying climax. Satisfying enough that it caused the entire cinema of jaded, cynical Londoners surrounding me to break into a rampant bout of spontaneous applause as the credits rolled and they stumbled to their feet dazed, disconcerted and slightly overwhelmed.
Originally published in Crack Magazine