‘Whiplash’ received numerous awards in 2014. A tale of ambition, bullying and overcoming enormous obstacles, it’s a dazzling effort from writer/director Damien Chazelle. Everyone has experienced some form of bullying in their lives with Chazelle’s lead bully frightfully real. It’s this authenticity which makes ‘Whiplash’ engrossing viewing.

Andrew (Miles Teller) is a first year jazz student attending a prestigious New York music academy. A talented drummer, Andrew’s skills are noted by his musical professor Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Although he wants to be one of the best in his field, Andrew increasingly becomes uncomfortable with Fletcher’s combative ways. Pushing his student to the absolute limits in order to achieve results, Fletcher’s tactics lead to surprising outcomes that change both men forever.

In many ways ‘Whiplash’ is like a war movie. Andrew is a musical soldier entering the field of combat with Fletcher, an endurably unforgiving enemy. ‘Whiplash’ doesn’t have a simple card-board cut-out premise or characters. The complex nature of both men are starkly shown with their various flaws clearly seen. Using anything he can to motivate his students, Fletcher’s actions are based on fear and intimidation. Such tactics occasionally work but the question arises whether this destroys the love his students have for their craft.

Teller and Simmons give high grade performances. They are able to effectively convey the percolating rage their roles have even during non-speaking moments. Added to this is the music and drumming sequences which are dynamically staged. You can truly feel the forceful fury of Andrew’s skills shining through during these scenes. It’s easy seeing why he and his fellow classmates have such passion for the industry – further evidence of how good the script is.

‘Whiplash’ is a solid emotional and sensorial experience. It offers uncomfortable watching at times but it pays off in unexpected ways. Like music’s sharp rhythm, ‘Whiplash’ doesn’t miss a beat in crafting a satisfying experience.

Rating out of 10: 8


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