If I had seen this movie before naming my Oscar predictions, I would have given every category to Whiplash. The film is centered on a promising young drummer, Andrew, and his dreams of becoming the best drummer at a cutthroat music conservatory. When he is chosen by the most intimidating and influential mentor, Fletcher, at the school, Andrew is worked near to death to gain the position of core drummer in Fletcher’s jazz ensemble.
The film keeps your attention as Andrew tries to balance his family, which disapproves of his art, a girlfriend and drumming, which quickly takes over his whole life. Fletcher physically and emotionally scars Andrew with hazing and verbal abuse to try to drive Andrew out of self-satisfaction and into hard work for the sake of drumming. The movie ends with an amazing scene of Andrew taking his drumming and possible future career into his own hands and impressing not just the fictional audience in the movie, but the audience in the theater watching the film.
Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are both amazing in their respective roles as Andrew and Fletcher. Teller’s last couple of roles have been more comedic, but acting in a drama has solidified his talent. Simmons, up for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards, played the menacing mentor with such gusto that I was completely amazed. The music itself was beautiful. The fact that Whiplash is set in the present day and shows how jazz music can still evolve and is prominent in today’s society was refreshing.
Whiplash shows the dynamic between wanting to be great and remembered, but also dedicating your whole life to something and sacrificing for that art. It made the audience wonder whether living the dream is worth it. I am not sure how accurately the training process is portrayed, but the drumming was incredible, and the ending blew me away. Damien Chazelle, the writer and director, did an astounding job with this film. Just as the critics promised, Whiplash is electrifying and exhilarating and made me beg for an encore.