Whiplash (2014) – In cinemas now

January 22, 2015

Review by Jake Sayer

Undoubtedly you’ll have heard of ‘Whiplash’ by now. If you haven’t, then we have no idea where you’ve been. Damien Chazelle’s drumming epic hit the screens on the 16th January here in the UK and has already received high praise from critics and the general public alike. Not only has it done incredibly well, but J.K. Simmons also won a Golden Globe award for his stellar performance as ‘Fletcher’, the terrifyingly intimidating studio band overlord.

The film documents the struggles of Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller), an ambitious first year drummer at the Shaffer Conservatory. He very soon meets Fletcher (who, for all intents and purposes, is ‘God of the college’), and is recruited into his prestigious studio band. With this honour comes incredible struggle as Fletcher psychologically bullies and cripples Neyman (predominantly through an impressive barrage of creative and colourful swear combos – that alone in our opinion earned Simmons his Golden Globe!), who is already haunted by the shadow of his father’s failures. Progressively this becomes too much for Neyman and results in a downward, tense and thrilling finale.

We loved this film. Not only is it a homage, in many ways, to some musical greats such as Buddy Rich, ‘the world’s greatest drummer’ (sorry, Travis), but also an incredibly bold and engaging film. There is a sense of impending doom and incredible tension throughout. At many points, we found ourselves literally on the edge of our seat. Furthermore, the film is a fantastic critique of the concept that ‘practice makes perfect’ and that if you want your dreams, you need to chase them. Chazelle, however, challenges us to think of the alternative; that a passion for something, and the desire to excel in it, can be destructive and obsessive if taken too far.

Both Teller and Simmons give incredibly emotional performances. Teller, because we all identify with having that one thing we love but could see ourselves going too far to pursue (and so, as a result, we sympathise); and Fletcher, because one part of you hates his guts and is scared of him yourself, but another part is intrigued and wonders if he’s actually just trying to help and has people’s best interests at heart (even if they are horribly misconstrued).

There you have it – the recipe for an Oscar nominated film. If you’re a lover of music, more specifically drumming or simply just enjoy a good film we highly recommend you see this whilst it’s still in cinemas! If you can’t, then get a copy on DVD straight away – it’s worth it!

Whiplash is in cinemas now.

Here is the trailer:

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