Under the direction of a ruthless instructor, a talented young drummer begins to pursue perfection at any cost, even his humanity.


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  • ★★★★★ review by Laura Raud on Letterboxd

    My mind exploded watching this movie.

    My heart is still pounding.

    My body is still shivering.

    I saw Whiplash almost 24 hours ago.

  • ★★★★★ review by Jonathan White on Letterboxd

    Before my parents married, my father was studying to be a concert pianist at the Canadian Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto; the upper echelon of musical academies up here in the Great White North. Before that, while still at home in New Brunswick, he would spend his weekends playing in a swing dance band; This is where he met my mum. He spent his weekday evenings practicing at home.

    My grandfather, a colonel in the Canadian army, advocated his 7 children play instruments; violin or piano strongly encouraged. A well rounded individual required musical training. A proper career, in his view, consisted of military, medicine, or theology tracts. My Uncles Paul, Emery, and Ernie became Medical Doctors. My Aunt Alice, an RN. Oscar followed his father’s footsteps into Canadian Armed Forces. My Aunt Evelyn, a Catholic Nun. My Uncle Omer, an accountant. From what I understand that choice was tolerated; barely. Needless to say, my father’s choice of music as a vocation, even the lofty goal of a classically trained concert pianist, did not meet my grandfather’s exacting expectations and resulted in a rift between my father and his that was never mended.

    My father never spoke to me about my grandfather. He'd passed away before I was born. What I did learn of him was from my mother, and that he was very demanding of all of his children. You were to be hard working and earnest. You were to get good grades. You were to practice social skills. You weren’t supposed to have fun. Although she never spoke ill of him, I could tell that my mum was not a huge fan of her father in law; especially as her own large family was so completely the opposite … they loved having fun, and didn’t care much about social status or lofty careers. They loved my dad. He fit right in.

    Whiplash painted a picture of my father’s life growing up, but from a distorted perspective. He had the pressure to perform, the constant demands, and the harsh discipline; but not about the music. Music was the escape.

    Whiplash also took my breath away. Both Teller and especially Simmons give electrifying performances with nothing being held back. I think I bonded with both characters so well because their combination of strengths and flaws made them honestly relatable. Simmons demanding perfection scarred by the accompanying pettiness. The first scene with the two of them together where Simmons simply turns away and walks out, only to come back for his coat. Did he really forget his coat, or did he just want to further drive the spike into Teller’s Andrew. I’ve always loved Simmons; particularly for his brilliantly droll comedic delivery. This is a whole new level, though. The intensity of his performance is something I would never have expected. Teller gets points for simply not being blown off the screen by Simmons wattage.

    You also have to admire a film that achieve so much dramatic tension with only the slightest narrative. There’s no huge arc, there’s no big event. Even the music festival is rather downplayed, and seemed more like an evolution in the plot rather than a point of dramatic crescendo. No, Whiplash is a series of connected scenes. Those scenes evolve the drama, escalating it ever higher.

    And the music; I felt swept back to my childhood and my father’s record player.

    My father graduated from the conservatory and married my mother. He was a brilliant player, but he realized not quite brilliant enough to be the best. Only the best can make a living at being a concert pianist. He did the sensible thing and got a job to support his wife, and somewhat later, me. He went back to University, taking night classes while working a day job, and received his degree in business.

    My father passed away many many years ago. My most vivid memory of him was him practicing the piano. Usually two hours a day, after he came home from work, and pretty much all day Saturday and Sunday. He would hardly ever play a complete piece; he would just go over and over a section, maybe playing the entire piece once before finishing for the day, but more often than not he didn't. I always wondered if it was because of my grandfather that all my father really did was practice. It was easy to tell he loved to play, but just as easy to tell that he was still striving for perfection, even though there was no longer anything at stake.

    Although I took classical piano, and had to suffer through Royal Conservatory Exams, there was really no huge amount of pressure from my Dad. I quit just after barely passing my Grade 5. I don’t think it bothered him when I quit. He knew I didn’t have the gift, and in music, you can’t excel without it.

    Musical ability passed me by, but it only skipped me. My son has the gift. He’s a drummer.

  • ★★★★★ review by CinemaClown on Letterboxd

    This is it! This is where the search for the best picture of 2014 comes to its conclusion. And although I still need to check out a few more films that were released before the new year, I doubt that watching them is going to change anything because after sitting through what is undeniably a goosebumps-inducing cinematic experience from start to finish, I can say with absolute certainty that Whiplash is my Movie of the Year.

    Whiplash tells the story of Andrew Neiman; a 19-year-old Jazz drummer who aspires to become one of the great drummers like Buddy Rich & finds himself under the wing of the school's most respected but fearsome teacher, Terence Fletcher. Determined to impress the instructor after getting the grilling of his life on his very first day, Neiman completely dedicates himself to his craft but Fletcher aims to push him beyond what he's capable of.

    Fabulously written & meticulously directed by Damien Chazelle, Whiplash is a work of blazing originality that takes over the screen like an invading horde & from its opening moments to the spectacular finale, Chazelle's kinetic direction in what is his sophomore effort controls the film's charged atmosphere with sublime precision while also keeping the rest of its elements perfectly in rhythm with each other.

    Coming to the technical aspects, the entire picture is a work of astounding production & every aspect only contributes in further enriching the overall experience. Sets are refined to smallest of details, Cinematography makes near-perfect use of colour palettes, hues & lighting, Editing is one of its strongest aspects that makes its viciously paced story all the more engaging while its jazz-heavy soundtrack keeps the premise on the verge of explosion at all times.

    As far as acting goes, this is easily Miles Teller's best performance to date for the actor gives his all in what is a physically demanding role to completely reinvent himself & he's an absolute revelation as Andrew Neiman. And yet, he is completely overshadowed by J.K. Simmons who is in as Terence Fletcher and with his intimidating screen presence, he manages to deliver the most impressive, memorable & dominating performance we've ever seen from the veteran actor.

    On an overall scale, Whiplash is a powerhouse of fierce direction, smart writing, charged atmosphere, dynamic photography, cut-throat editing, strong performances & dazzling score which promises an emotionally intense cinematic ride & effortlessly delivers it. Passionate filmmaking at its best, it's a heavy dose of adrenaline shot that marks a stunning breakthrough for its director, features the career-best performances from its cast & is absolutely electrifying from start to finish.

    Electric, explosive, visceral, spectacular, feverish, muscular, volatile, provocative, intoxicant, dangerous, glorious, incredible, sharp, creative, vicious, kinetic, crazy, extraordinary, soulful, stellar, tremendous, triumphant, exhilarating, electrifying, thrilling, inspiring, transfixing, astounding, jaw-dropping, heartbreaking, intimidating, challenging, gripping, daring, entertaining, satisfying & rewarding in every possible manner, Whiplash comes one hundred percent recommended.

    Full review at: wp.me/s3KleJ-whiplash

  • ★★★★★ review by Lucy on Letterboxd

    when potato boy punch the drum 😩👌

  • ★★★★★ review by suzie jenkins pendragon on Letterboxd

    i had a dream that j.k. simmons yelled at me and i woke up crying

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