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Whiplash is a story about perseverance, coaching, music, and stamina. It’s essentially a classic sports movie where the coach has to raise a player to his highest potential through any means possible; in this case, the teacher inflicts emotional abuse to produce the next Buddy Rich.
Miles Teller plays Andrew, a 19 year old prodigy drummer attending Schaffer Conservatory in New York. His goal is to get into a prestigious jazz band led by Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Fletcher notices Teller and gives him a chance to sit 2nd chair drummer. Soon, he proves himself worthy to play core.
Fletcher torments Andrew constantly, to the point of mentally and sometimes physically abusing him. Andrew practices and practices, to where his hands are bleeding profusely. Andrew pushes on, until the band has a performance, and he has to play core drummer. However, this is the breaking point for Andrew. Fletcher threatens Andrew that if he does not retrieve his sticks in time for the performance, he will forfeit his chair, and possibly, his seat in the band. On the way back from the rental car place, Andrew gets into a nasty car accident. He is so out of it (possibly from a concussion) that he runs back to the music hall. Bleeding from his head and arms, he attempts to play, but fails, as he can barely hold the sticks. Fletcher tells Andrew he is done, but Andrew is so furious and distraught that he attacks Fletcher on stage.
Andrew meets with a lawyer per his worried dad’s request, and they eventually de-throne Fletcher from his jazz kingdom at Shaffer. Andrew wanders aimlessly, dismissed from the university and seemingly has no drive left. Fletcher and Andrew are reunited in a jazz club where Fletcher is performing. He invites Andrew to play at a festival concert he is conducting.
I won’t give the ending away, although I will say, it was very abrupt and VERY disappointing. The audience is left hanging, with no real conclusion. I know this is probably just director’s vision, but it’s still annoying. I will say, the cinematography was EXCELLENT. I loved the close-up shots and details of the drums, the blood on Andrew’s sticks, the sweat trickling down his head and face. It was all very raw, like you could feel the pain Andrew was feeling while he was playing.
I thought Miles Teller did a great job of performing in this film. I could tell he really had to practice hard for it, and probably was feeling all the same pain and torment that Andrew was feeling at times. J.K. Simmons really blew his part out of the water. He had my husband and I yelling at the TV, “WHAT A D*CK!” a few times! Simmons really had a way of digging deep to find his inner coach/douche-bag for this part. I believe he won an Academy Award for this picture.
Although I’m not personally a fan of jazz, any fan of concert music would enjoy this film. Actually, anyone a fan of a Rudy story would like this film.
I give this movie a 3/5, mostly because it was a great film, but not one I’d watch over and over again.