Terrence Fletcher: And people wonder why jazz is dying.
To achieve true greatness, the kind of greatness that will still be talked about long after you’re dead, you have to dedicate yourself entirely to your craft or cause. Furthermore, the belief is that you cannot create the kind of art that lasts if you don’t suffer for it first. These are just a couple of the misconceptions that young drumming prodigy, Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller), adheres to in his pursuit of success in the world of music. Unfortunately for him though, they may also end up being his undoing.
In WHIPLASH, novice filmmaker, Damien Chazelle (GUY AND MADELINE ON A PARK BENCH), expands his successful short film of the same name into an intense and incredible feature film. Andrew has just begun his first semester at a prestigious New York conservatory for jazz musicians and he is noticed by one of the more prominent professors there on one of his very first days. From his first encounter with Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), who also runs the school’s competitive jazz band, Andrew is baffled by the man, and understandably so. Fletcher, thanks to an exhilarating performance by Simmons, is nearly impossible to read. He seems to be intrigued by Andrew’s potential and also seems interested in building on his talent, but his approach to pulling the best out of Andrew is essentially mental abuse.
With WHIPLASH, Chazelle has crafted the film equivalent of a great piece of jazz. It is melodic, on beat and adds unexpected layers throughout as it builds towards a climax that will have audiences riveted. And Teller, who plays 70% of the drumming seen in the film, is at the centre of it all, literally giving blood, sweat and tears to this electrifying performance. Between the stellar acting and the commanding groove Chazelle maintains throughout, WHIPLASH proves that great art does not need to come from a place of pain to be unforgettable.