Posted January 23, 2015 by editor in Film Reviews

Whiplash Review


Intensity, dramatic rival, nemesis, and heart pounding sweat inducing physical set pieces are all import traits to be found in an action film. And by the time you leave Whiplash you’d swear that you’d just walked out of one.

Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a jazz drummer attending one of America’s most prestigious music schools. He is spotted by onsite instructor Terrence Fletcher (J K Simmons) and unorthodox teacher who rules his classes with an iron fist. Keen to get in on Fletcher’s band Andrew is given a chance but quickly finds that working in the band is going to test his every nerve as he is humiliated, physically tortured, slapped, bullied and hounded consistently by the overbearing conductor.

Whiplash is a character study of two men seeking perfection in their work: One the master; the other the pupil. As much as it is easy to sympathise with Neiman and be horrified by the conduct of Fletcher – there is a high level of obsessive behaviour in both their lifestyles and attitudes towards perfection that makes this story so compelling.

Miles Teller literally sweat his way through the film, tearing through his own flesh in order to get to the controlled speed level he needs to satisfy his new mentor.

J.K. Simmons throws out the J Jonah Jameson cartoon character here in favour of a very real, very serious man who you will laugh at when he colourfully berates his students with very un-politically correct language; and then shudder in his more quiet moments where he comes eye to eye with Neiman – threatening his very future as a jazz musician.

Writer/Director Damien Chazelle is one to watch having already impressed with his script for last year’s fun, but exciting thriller Grand Piano. Here he takes the reigns as director as well and proves to be a name worth looking out for in future work.

The film could happily of deflated at the end with a sombre ending for everyone involved – perhaps even given us a message about what is actually important to us all as human beings and happily walked off to a blurred out background to rolling credits. Instead Whiplash keeps going to a finale that is so heart-poundingly exciting, dramatically tense and ultimately satisfying for all involved that you’ll shake your head with disbelief that a film could vibrate your nerves so hard.

A solidly performed film that deserves its recent Academy Award recognition (and we’ll be damned if Simmons doesn’t get his). Unmissable!

5 Stars




Steven Hurst