Written and Directed by Damien Chazelle, Whiplash is a film about a drummer who yearns to be the very best. It sounds fairly pedestrian but this film is an intensely powerful drama with as much adrenalin as you might expect from any great action or thriller.
Whiplash is a tale of obsession and an epic battle of wills between a maniacal teacher and a very determined student that questions just how far someone can be pushed to achieve excellence. It’s a storyline that is fairly familiar for sports movies and even real life sports professionals, and in this film delivers incredible intensity in a jazz music conservatory.
Andrew Nayman, a student at a prestigious music school, cannot believe his luck when he is selected by a highly respected music conductor to join his studio jazz band. This begins an amazing rollercoaster ride of incredible highs and lows as Andrew quickly becomes obsessed with pleasing his new mentor.
Miles Teller, as the young drummer, takes the audience on an exhilarating journey through palm sweating, gut wrenching, on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments as he puts his talent, ego and heart on the line over and over again trying to live up to ridiculously high expectations.
JK Simmons is absolutely terrifying as the cruel and merciless conductor Terrence Fletcher, whose disturbing psychological games provide the incentive for Nayman to push himself to breaking point and beyond in what would have to be some of the best cinematic storytelling of this year.
Whiplash also stars Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser, Austin Stowell, Jayson Blair and Kavita Patil. With a terrific jazz score and a script that will keep you riveted to the very end, it is no surprise Whiplash was winner of both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Prize at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Reviewed by Ceri Horner
Rating out of 10: 9
Whiplash opens 23 October 2014