Directed by: Damien Chazelle | 107 minutes | drama, music | Actors: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang, Chris Mulkey, Damon Gupton, Max Kasch, Suanne Spoke, Charlie Ian, Jayson Blair, Kofi Siriboe, Kavita Patil, C.J. Vana
Musicians continue to fascinate as a film subject. The biopics about famous musicians are piling up, but the difficult road to the top is rarely central here. The young director Damien Chazelle had been lugging around his self-written script about this for a long time. When it was so well received as a short film, it was subsequently also given the green light to promote it to a full-fledged feature film. J.K. Simmons kept his original role and Miles Teller got the other lead role in “Whiplash”.
The prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York is the cradle for many great musicians. The young Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) practices day and night on his drum kit to be part of this too. During one of his practice sessions, he is noticed by the infamous teacher Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons).
Andrew is then invited by Fletcher to join his exclusive band as an alternate drummer. Soon, the barbaric teaching methods take their toll on Andrew’s state of mind. Nothing should get in the way of pleasing Fletcher. A fledgling romance dies an early death and even a car accident can’t get in the way. The way to the top gets a very high price.
That “Whiplash” is based in part on director Damien Chazelle’s personal experiences almost makes you feel sorry for the best man. The intense atmosphere that is created makes for a very fascinating film experience. An excellently written script offers the protagonists an excellent opportunity to profile themselves and is tackled by both hands.
J.K. Simmons is truly brilliant in the role of dictatorial music teacher Fletcher. He makes the role so his own that you can’t imagine anyone else in it, just as he did before with his role as J. Jonah Jameson in the “Spider-Man” trilogy. Miles Teller confirms his rising star status in the role of Andrew. His choices can be disputed, but understanding is there. The music played in the film is of such high quality that it can easily be qualified as an extra character.
One of the most entertaining facets of the film has to be the visible pleasure that J.K. Simmons has phrased great insults. “Oh my dear God – are you one of those single tear people?” Andrew is snapped at when he can’t handle the pressure for a moment and lets his emotions run wild. It’s as if the officer from “Full Metal Jacket” has been revived.
Despite the fact that no famous musician is central here, “Whiplash” is one of the best films that focus on music in recent years. The discipline required to make it in this world is illustrated to the extreme. Even for non-music lovers, watching the psychological game that is being played is very worthwhile. Director Damien Chazelle has delivered a new musical classic here.