If predictions and past trends are to be trusted, then in all likelihood, “Whiplash,” will not bring home the big prize at this year’s Oscars. However, if you’re a fan of jazz or even just small stories told really well, then “Whiplash,” will probably be one of your favorites of this year’s nominees.
Directed by Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash,” tells the story of Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller), a first-year jazz student at New York’s prestigious Shaffer Conservatory. When he’s hand selected as the second drummer by Conductor Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) for his elite studio band, he seems to be well on his way to achieving his dream of greatness.
Fletcher known for his intense style of teaching, soon lives up to his reputation. Andrew is verbally berated, slapped, and even has a chair thrown at him. And that’s all during his first rehearsal.
In spite of these obstacles, he quickly rises in the band, becoming the lead drummer after the first competition. However, he falls just as quickly, when a series of unfortunate events, cause him to arrive late for the bands next competition. After an epic meltdown, he’s expelled from the program. Fletcher is also fired after Andrew, in an ill-advised move, decides to testify against him in a lawsuit files by another student’s family.
Believe it or not, it all works out. Epically so. In fact, the last few minutes of this film will have you riveted to the screen.
As the incredibly determined, Andrew Neiman, Miles Teller is very relatable. Anyone who has ever had a teacher or coach who always pushed them just a little bit further will find his struggles familiar.
J.K. Simmons as Terrence Fletcher steals the show. The intensity of his performance will have even the most stubborn jazz-hater considering converting.
All in all, it’s a simple story told well, and with some outstanding acting from J.K. Simmons. Plus, it has the added bonus of some excellent music.
…just for fun: