Whoa, stupid wannabe intellekshul Orcabish, does she have to torture us with her strange arthouse movies? First Birdman and now Whiplash? OMfG! 😮
A young and talented drummer attending a prestigious music academy finds himself under the wing of the most respected professor at the school, one who does not hold back on abuse towards his students. The two form an odd relationship as the student wants to achieve greatness, and the professor pushes him.
Mhm, that’s already the whole story. One talented and ambitious young musician and one super asshole professor on a power trip or sumsuch make a not only an odd but a unhealthy relationship. If our young drummerboy ever makes it it’s not because of but despite his professor. That’s the morale of the story. So far, so easy. Almost too easy, kinda kiddie TV. Or not?
No, actually not that easy. During the runtime of the movie we see nuances in our protagonist’s characters, we witness them changing theri attitude towards life, towards others and towards each other.
If prof Fletcher – as so greatly portrayed by J.K. Simmons – is really such big an arsehole, why are his students fighting so hard over becoming his personal protegèes? Why ate they going thru all the insults and even physical pain only to be selected for the prof’s school band?
That’s a question our young hero Andrew – very good work by Miles Teller – asks himself and he’s not totally sure himself if it’s all worth it. But in the end he … NO SPOILERS HERE!!! So maybe the professor treated him just right, pushed just the right buttons to get the best out of Andrew? Or can he do it by himself? Who knows.
So, yes, this is mostly a very simple 2 persons play. Of course there are others, other students, partularly drummers but they are all just purpose dummies, they are there as tools for the story, not as important characters on their own.
But what made the critics so ecstatic about Whiplash? Why were Orca and Hubby like glued to the edge of their seats and couldn’t divert their gaze off the screen? I guess you must be a special kind of person to enjoy this kind of movie. First it won’t hurt if you’re a musician yourself and are able to relate to the joy and pain of countless hours of boring repetitive practice routines. Secondly it’s also beneficial if you’re somehow connected to academia and know how the atmosphere in colleges and art schools is. And thirdly having a sound background in filmology is of the utmost importance! I’m lacking any formal education in filmmaking but I truly enjoyed the very good, if not spectacular, camera and lighting. Whiplash is by all means and purposes a small film, a indie flick, made on a small budget. But they sure made the best of it. Whiplash is technically a very refined movie.
CONCLUSION: With all the great cinematography Whiplash still centers on and circles around the teacher/student pairing of Fletcher/Simmons and Andrew/Teller. It’s great to see these two actors having a go at each other. And while Miles Teller surely is a promising new talent it was the old warhorse J.K. Simmons who truly knocked me off my feet. I really wonder why and how he could’ve been so sadly overlooked in Hollywod circles for such a long time. Wrong agent maybe? Apart from some supporting roles in TV series (Law & Order?) he’s basically unknown. I hope this is going to change now.
What a great character actor, what a well lived-in and worn-out face. Pitch J.K. Simmons against Bruce Willis, Sly Stallone, Robert De Niro or even Dustin Hoffman and I bet he could out-act the whole bunch.
A well-earned IMDb rating of 8.5.