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An incredibly powerful film!
Gbert25428 January 2014

Ever had a dream of being a great football player? A great dancer? A great singer? A great musician? Our protagonist has a dream of being a great drummer, a drummer that will be remembered forever. Maybe you are still fighting for your dream. Maybe you have given up on greatness. Greatness doesn't come easily, you need to practice at it. Andrew practices until his hands bleed.

Andrew (Miles Teller) is 19-year old student at a music conservatory in Manhattan. Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) is a teacher at the conservatory with a ruthlessly brutal teaching style. After picking Andrew to play in the school band, he pushes Andrew to his limits in order to realize his full potential, at the risk of his humanity.

I had a billiards teacher at one point in my life, who was close to becoming a pro in his craft but a grease fire accident changed all that. His perspective changed, to paraphrase, he realized he was becoming an asshole. He became a teacher of pool instead of becoming a pro player. Through him, I can understand what Terrence Fletcher was trying to instill into Andrew. My teacher would push me a little bit. When he gave me opportunities to show him up, "run the table now," he would tell me, I failed. It's embarrassing when that happens but it's also a learning tool because more work needs to be done. You can't get by on talent alone but it certainly helps. On the other side of it, I saw a little bit of my teacher in Andrew. Losing who you are to perfect something you love. Good thing my teacher realized before it was too late.

I lost myself in the story. It had something to say about not settling and asking more of yourself. Two fantastic performances from Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. Perhaps it will push you to maybe pick up that guitar again, put on your ballet shoes, or hit the gym to bulk up. Whiplash is an incredibly powerful film. And after the final shot cuts to black, the film will stick with you for days.

My expectations: Medium. I did not expect the film to be so powerful for me. Expectations exceeded.

Recommendation: Cinema lovers and casual movie goers, I believe will enjoy this film.

Re-watch value: I can watch this film again and I actually can't wait until it hits distribution.

Memorable: I am still thinking about this film.
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An important hardened lesson in resilience and when to stop measuring up to your mentor. Whiplash is a captivating study of ambition.
Sergeant_Tibbs23 October 2014
Taking the festival circuit by storm since its Sundance premiere in January, Whiplash is starting to feel like the underdog that could go far with its crowd-pleasing intensity. On the surface, it's a gritty story about a brutal student-mentor relationship that oversteps boundaries. Underneath, it's a piercing examination of the psyche of unbridled ambition. Whiplash is a film that stops at nothing. As a result, it's the best film I've seen in years, and I say that without hesitation. This is a film that resonates on every single level and every moment counts. If writer/director Damien Chazelle was striving for greatness as much as his protagonist, then he has achieved it.

Miles Teller, who's been steadily growing on me since The Spectacular Now, stars as Andrew Neyman, a 19-year-old aspiring jazz drummer who's pushed and inspired by the abuse and aspirations of his school band leader Fletcher, played by the ferocious J.K. Simmons like we've never seen him before. Chazelle has described the film as an origin story to the jazz musicians of the golden age, and it thrives on the myths of jazz heroes such as Charlie Parker. They're urgently looking for the next Parker, in search of perfection. But with that comes a great irony. The music genre is known as one for freedom of expression but here the jazz is soulless and mechanical, and that clouds the ethical judgment of the characters. Even so, Fletcher is a man who can tell if you have the right tempo within a bar. Although most of the audience for the film may not know much about music including myself, you get a feel for what he's looking for and when someone's wrong even if you don't know why. Simmons is as good as they say he is. He's a force of nature, with a terrifying presence that incites the fear Bryan Cranston achieved with the peak of his Walter White. But it's not a one-note performance. Simmons is still subversive with moments of weakness, insecurity, approachability, and he also sometimes brings in the lightness he's known for in other roles with Jason Reitman, exec producer here.

Even though he's an unlikeable character with nothing nice to say, he's still somewhat endearing and enigmatic, much like R. Lee Ermey's drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket. This demasculinisation through a barrage of insults is a theme explored in Whiplash and it argues whether it's a crime or an 'ends justifying the means' factor of life. It's not just a music film, but also one that adapts to the elements of sports training, war at boot camp and biopic genres with the way it frames its elements. Fletcher is representative of the devil on our shoulders that yells at us that we're not good enough and that symbolic idea resonates deeply for me. His poisonous words are more a part of Andrew's psyche than legitimate coaching techniques. What grabs me about the film is its discussion on artistic perfection, and especially in these intimate and rough sequences of practicing. What is objectively great in art? When is it good enough, and why? It toes a fascinating line. That's why drumming is such an interesting choice for the film to explore because it's so instinctive. Drummers have to make decisions within a fraction of a second and talent can only take you so far. The roaring beat in Whiplash puts your heart in your throat. Teller's performance as Andrew is terrific, one to match Simmons.

Chazelle is committed on expressing the physicality of drumming and Teller captures it exhaustively without feeling contrived. It's the virtuosity of the writing that allows us into Andrew's head however. It's a long road to the top, but the script makes the right decision to allow him to revel in the little moments of success, but then to immediately test him in surprising and involving ways. Each turn of the story shapes his expectations and ambitions and then escalates it to the right point. While the film is a gripping experience nonetheless, in retrospect perhaps it is too bitingly cynical. It does suggest that you have to be deprived of a meaningful relationship to achieve your goals. It does appear to be very anti-positive reinforcement, but perhaps it's merely a statement on the abundant sheltering that the latest generation is enduring. Whiplash is refreshing to see, we all know we wouldn't be resilient enough to take that kind of punishment so it's cathartic to watch Andrew go through it all and see how far he'll go. His frustration, regrets, fear and rage with himself cuts to the core of the human condition as he's pushed further and further.

The technical aspects of the film help it become so stimulating with dizzying closeups tightly edited together and its the stark orange tinted cinematography. It's thoroughly impressive that the film was shot in only 19 days for them to get shots so immaculately timed and performed with all those complicated movements. There's a refreshing brevity to the film with its sharp atmosphere, but it's so rich in emotion, psychological tension and personal subtext. It neither rushes nor drags, on paper nor on screen. It really is a film that lingers in your mind for days, nagging you, like Fletcher over your shoulder. Maybe it'll continue to linger for weeks. I hope so too, especially for Oscar voters. It seems that J.K. Simmons is building momentum to be a lock for Best Supporting Actor at this point. However, Whiplash isn't just a best of year film, nor best of decade. It approaches best of all-time worthy with its identifiable themes of meticulous work ethics, fulfilling aspirations, resilience of the soul, and knowing when to no longer measure yourself to your mentor. I'll take this film with me for a while as a screaming motivator.

10/10. Best film of the decade.

Read more @ The Awards Circuit (http://www.awardscircuit.com/)
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Whiplash is a modern day masterpiece.
TheMovieDiorama2 March 2018
I don't say that often, in fact...never. There aren't enough superlatives to describe the amazingness of Whiplash. Damien Chazelle crafted not just a tense dramatic piece of cinema, but a thematic experience with layered subtext. Andrew is a college student who simply wants to be the best drummer. Terence Fletcher, a renowned teacher at said college, sees potential in Andrew and chooses him to be the drummer in his band, at the expense of emotional distress. This is a brutal character study, absolutely savage. This is about Fletcher as much as it is about Andrew. The psychological battle and the consequential emotional turmoil that follows. I've never been so compelled in a drama ever (and this is my 5th viewing). The strive for perfection amidst the continuous passion that elevates Andrew as a person and how Fletcher uses his passion in attempt to obtain the perfect musician that Andrew hopes to be. The struggle for perfection is difficult in any profession, there is no right or wrong way to achieve this; the question is: "is there a line between gently pushing someone towards a goal or inflicting emotional torture upon them?". Fletcher leans towards the latter, so much so that he actually imposes physical damage to Andrew to test whether he will be discouraged from the harsh reality of perfection or not. The internal struggle in Andrew is excellently conveyed, you can see his passion seeping through the blood, sweat and tears and yet mentally unable to cope with Fletcher's methods. A simple story, but executed with such ferocity and intelligence that it just feels fresh. Damien Chazelle directed the heck out of this. Quick cuts between the musical instruments and nice long takes of Miles Teller and J.K Simmons duelling in anger. Speaking on Simmons, the best performance I've seen in years. Both complicated and terrifying simultaneously, he deserved every award. Teller was near perfect as well, conveying innocence and vulnerability. Look, I can talk about Whiplash forever. It's a masterpiece. End of review.
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Tension, tension, tension!
drakula200528 October 2014
After seeing Damien Chazelle's Whiplash - a film the young up-and- coming director wished to do for some time now - being so beautifully realized and brought to life by everyone involved in the project, I was glad and relieved, mainly because I have seen the short film, which was pretty incredible.

I believe that among the most telling facts about a film's fortunes and qualities, is the ability to broaden it's public, but in the same time not forgetting that cinema is not all about commercial success and mass audiences.Or with other words - a film that is not just eye candy and booms and explosions, but also craft, soul, dedication and wits.

Those are some of the things not only the film itself possesses, but the people behind it have in abundance as well.

The upcoming Miles Teller plays the young and dedicated student Andrew Nieman, who has the drive, the ambition to succeed and to be great, which is fine, as long as it doesn't derail your personal life.A lesson the young drummer learns the hard way.

Blind ambition is the thing, that can describe our anti-hero of sorts, Terrence Fletcher a.k.a the brilliant J.K. Simmons, who has a thing for mindeffin' his students to the point of total physical and mental exhaustion and even depression.But he does it for a reason, for the sole purpose of finding the next big, even great, thing in jazz and in music as a whole.The next prodigy, the next "Yardbird" Charlie Parker that will be otherwise lost, if not being pushed to the very limit.

And boy, does J.K. Simmons nails it.Chazelle has done a masterful job in casting the two leads in Teller and Simmons.Their respective acts are full of purpose, full of tension and ultimately terrific.

Expect some awards going in the way of "Whiplash" and look out for Simmons in the Oscars shortlist, that's how good he is in it.And in his own words: "What a shame we wrapped it up in only 19 days".It must have been really fun playing a part like Terrence Fletcher and Simmons completely sold it.

As I said, the best movies are those, that reach out to the most diverse and wide spectrum of audiences, not those, who can connect to a massive number of people, who are representatives of only one specific audience type.And Chazelle has achieved just that with "Whiplash" - a precise, tension-building film, full of beautifully staged pieces and above all else, a love towards music and the challenges it often represents if you want to get to the very top.

The film ended in a big round of applause from the packed theater and I am sure that will be the case a long time from now!

My grade: 9/10
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A masterful tale of inspiration, set against a world of obsession, dedication and confrontation
CalRhys31 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
An unknown title, by an unknown director, starring an unknown lead, what does that form? Only one of the best damn dramas of this century to date. Inspiring, intense, reverent, Damien Chazelle's jazz-infused drama is an incredibly complex character study that has newcomer Miles Teller and veteran J.K. Simmons at the top of their game in this brilliant effort, 'Whiplash' is arguably the most riveting and sensational drama from 2014.

J.K. Simmons stars as antihero Terence Fletcher, a character we look at as the opportunity of Andrew's success, but also we hate for his brutal portrayal. From his profanity-clad embodiment of evil to the ever-hopeful light at the end of the film, we go through stages of loving, hating and even fearing him, a character who despite his occasional moments of sympathy, cares solely about the outcome of his orchestra, and shuns away anyone who tries to destroy that. Simmons's performance is flawless and breathless, a truly resonant achievement, and one of the most Oscar-deserving performances of recent years.

The gold and black colour palette, fast-paced editing, fluent and claustrophobic cinematography - every single component adds a fresh face to 21st century cinema and independent films as a whole, further supporting my conclusion that indie films have overtaken blockbusters for the provision of unique visions and entertainment. Chazelle's effort pays off as he creates not only one of the greatest villains of the 21st century in the form of Fletcher, but also one of the greatest movies of the 21st century, if not of all time, through which he rekindled the dying flame that is jazz.

The fusion of emotions throughout make this a film that thrusts the audience into a world of obsession, dedication and confrontation, thus ensuing a tale of inspiration, a man and his dreams of becoming a "somebody", and to conclude, let's just note that final drum solo and sense of rebellion Andrew feels, it is utter gold, truly perfect. This movie is powerful, it is intense, it is unique, it is a stunning masterpiece!
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bbickley13-921-5866422 October 2014
This movie was far better than the trailer made it look.

JK Simmons gave a stellar performance as a music teacher in the best Jazz school, trying desperately to find and develop the next jazz legend. From the moment he appears he demands the screen, literately. There's a part in the flick were he just burst open the door putting a halt on whatever is going, and makes it all about what he wants, which sets the tone for the entire movie. One of the best antagonist I've seen at the movies.

Miles Teller plays the protagonist, A first year Jazz student who wants to be the next Jazz legend and is willing to go through the pain needed to become just that. I've been a fan of Miles Teller for a while and this movie just increase my fandom

It does not matter whether you are into jazz or not, this flick is about and boy willing to kill himself to become the best and the man willing to kill the boy so he can be the best. For anyone who has ever been in that kind of pressure, weather it be at college or on the playing field(I kid you not, watching these guys play Jazz played out like I was watching a Football movie with Miles being the Quarterback and JK being the coach)

It was an emotion trill ride with a lot of ups and downs, and just when you think the ride is over, we go for a second time around.

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Just My Tempo
ferguson-626 October 2014
Greetings again from the darkness. The pursuit of greatness is not always pretty. No matter if your dream is athletics, dancing, music or some other; you can be sure hard work and sacrifice will be part of your routine. You will likely have a mentor, teacher or coach whose job is to cultivate your skills while pushing you to new limits. This film questions whether the best approach is intimidation or society's current preferred method of nurturing.

Miles Teller plays Andrew, a first year student at an elite Manhattan music conservatory. Andrew dreams of being a great jazz drummer in the vein of Buddy Rich. When offered a rare shot at the top ensemble, Andrew quickly discovers the conductor is a breed unlike anything he has ever encountered. The best movie comparison I can offer for JK Simmons' portrayal of Terence Fletcher is R Lee Ermey's Drill Instructor in Full Metal Jacket. This is no Mr Holland's Opus. Fletcher bullies, intimidates, humiliates and uses every imaginable form of verbal abuse to push his musicians, and especially young Andrew, to reach for greater heights.

Andrew and Fletcher go head to head through the entire movie, with Fletcher's mental torment turning this into a psychological thriller ... albeit with tremendous music. We witness Andrew shut out all pieces of a personal life, and even take on some of Fletcher's less desirable traits. Andrew's diner break-up with his girlfriend (Melissa Benoist) is much shorter, but just as cold as the infamous opening scene in The Social Network. At a small dinner party, Andrew loses some of the sweetness he inherited from his dad (Paul Reiser), and unloads some Fletcherisms on some unsuspecting family friends.

Writer/Director Damien Chazelle has turned his Sundance award-winning short film into a fascinatingly brutal message movie that begs for discussion and debate. The open-ended approach is brilliant, though I found myself initially upset at the missing clean wrap that Hollywood so often provides. What price greatness? Is comeuppance a reward? Are mentors cruel to be kind? For the past few years, I have been proclaiming that Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) is the next John Cusack. Perhaps that bar is too low. Teller just gets better with each film. His relentless energy draws us in, and we find ourselves in his corner ... even though this time, he's not the greatest guy himself. Still, as strong as Teller is, the film is owned by JK Simmons. Most think of him as the dad in Juno, or the ever-present insurance spokesman on TV, but he previously flashed his bad side as the white supremacist in "Oz". Even that, doesn't prepare us for Simmons' powerhouse performance ... just enough humanity to heighten his psychological torturing of musicians.

You should see this one for Simmons' performance. Or see it for the up and coming Teller. Enjoy the terrific music, especially Duke Ellington's "Caravan". See it for the talking points about teachers, society and personal greatness. See it for any or all these reasons - just don't tell director Damien Chazelle "good job".
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Wow just wow. Easily one of the greatest films of the year
WalterSoprano6 January 2015
There is so many excellent great things to say about this film. To start off I will say it may be slow and to different for some to enjoy and so that I warn you. Now I will say that I can not express the idea enough of how surprising this film is. Jk Simmons does an outstanding performance as the highly unpredictable hair trigger tempered teacher Fletcher, Miles Teller an actor who I've only seen in mediocre comedies also shines in a breakthrough performance as the ambitious drummer Andrew. The performance are outstanding and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

My favorite thing about this film is how it has created it's own one of a kind spot in the music genre of film, it's atmosphere is unlike any other as well. The idea that this film is one of a kind can't be stressed enough, I guarantee you cannot find another film out there like this. This film expresses a shockingly high intensity for a music film. I believe that Jk Simmons acting is what fueled a lot of the intensity. When you watch this film even though it's pace will seem slow to most it's intensity is impossible to miss.

I can see how a lot of certain people may find this film hard to enjoy but for me this film as slow as it is couldn't have been more intense. The mere fact that a music film shows some strong intensity like this one did is mind blowing to me. I don't know how many of you had this same experience or something similar then you already know what I'm talking about. I have a good feeling and I'm hopeful this film rakes in some acting Oscars because this film deserves at least one. I haven't read anything on this films page and I'm sure others have expressed similar opinions and all I can say is listen and trust me. I'm praying you enjoy this film and experience it's one of a kind intensity just as I did. Thanks for reading my review and enjoy.
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Sure to be one of the best films of the year
clambakejr27 October 2014
Whiplash is low budget film making at its finest, and surely promises big things from rookie director/writer Damien Chazelle. Seeing this film in theaters was the first time this year that I have completely enraptured (granted, I have not seen all of the top films that have come out so far). Also, I am a succor for quality films about musicians, and Whiplash ranks in my all time favorites in that genre. The tension did not let up from the very first scene, especially as soon as the incredible J.K. Simmons enters. Simmons, along with Miles Teller (who's Project X days are now long behind him) have some of the best on screen chemistry I've seen. They're connected; one cannot act without it affecting the other. The film is almost entirely focused on this relationship, and the simplicity definitely services the film. I hope people will go and see it and vote with their pocketbooks for excellent low budget films.
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A dynamic movie full of tensions and twists
emilyeinbinder7 October 2014
"Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art."

Charlie Parker sums it all, Cinema is true Art. I wasn't expecting to feel this way after watching this movie. Every moment has tension and something unexpected occurring. It is as if the director had chosen to apply the tempo of the drums to the script. Anyone can relate to this story. We all have pursued a dream, a passion ... Rather or not we made it our everyday job or maybe just a hobby aside, some of us strive for something bigger.

This film is a journey in the search of your inner spirit, inner creativity ... not only will it make it clear that you cannot succeed without effort and hard work, it will also make you realize there are two different kinds of artists : - those who make art, - and those who make beautiful art

"Beautiful" because they are stimulated by a special strength within, a GIFT.

Is it because I reminisce N.Y.C. or that I play the drums? I simply believe the performances were astonishing and the actors perfectly chosen to embody these terrific characters. I won't say "good job" but rather "thank you", to the promising Franco-American director Damien Chazelle for sharing his vision.
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They could have done better
TaddWinter28 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this about 24 hours ago at the Best of Fest for Sundance, and this last 24 hours I have done little but think about and marvel at this film. I really had zero expectations going in, I heard the buzz surrounding it in town, but knew very little about it as the film began. I have yet to get the words that do my thoughts justice for this movie but I am going to try.

First everything about this film was stellar; casting, writing, acting, directing, music and cinematography all came together to just tell an incredible story. I want to say a bit more about a couple of these aspects.

Acting, first of all I don't know who impressed me more Miles Teller in the lead as Andrew Nieman or JK Simmons playing Band teacher Terence Fletcher. Both did so great that had either been a lesser actor they would have been out shined by the other. Simmons' performance really reminded me of Gunnery Sargent Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, except rather than emotionally destroying and rebuilding marines he was doing it to 18 year old kids. His character could have easily been cartoony and 2 dimensional but Simmons gave him such depth that the whole film I felt compassion for and even understood his motives, even before he lays them out for Nieman in the third act. Two scenes bring you to the core of this character and the line that has intrigued me for 24 hours is "No words in the English language are more dangerous than 'good job.'" (thus why I titled my review as such, sorry I couldn't resist). Then on to Teller's performance, for a younger actor who I haven't seen in much I must say he played his role like a seasoned actor. His performance just wrapped me up and to find out he did much of the drumming himself is insane. Whilst watching some of the intense scenes I felt like I was watching him be executed, and other times it feels like the fight in Rocky, you feel like you are just watching him get demolished, except all of this is emotional rather than the easier physical. Whether it is the discouragement, the socially awkwardness, the single parent household, the internal conflict, the hubris, the arrogance, and at times the mental torture that he put himself through, all just blew me away. Teller reminded me of a much much more talented John Cusack and had the charisma and electricity to connect to the audience.

The one other thing I must commend is the writing, so often you kind of know where a movie is headed but this movie stayed very unpredictable and just when you think for certain how a scene or sequence of scenes will play out they take a hard left and keeps you off balance (in a good way). It was so refreshing, a few times I thought the bow was on the film but then something disrupts how "it should go or end".

Sorry if I rambled, perhaps after thinking on it more I can get a more focused review, needless to say this film is a must-see when it gets a broad release. Great job to all involved and congrats on winning the award at Sundance, you certainly earned it.

One last thing if this gets attention in wide release this could see a heightened interest in Jazz, this is certainly a film that can make even the not-so musically inclined want to throw on a Jazz record and just drown in it.
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A pair of outstanding performances by Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons embody Damien Chazelle's piece of perfection...
ClaytonDavis27 September 2014
When it comes to cinema, there are often little gems in a sea of bigger spectacles, that can break through in the most proficient way. Last year, I pleaded to the entire film universe that discover and understand "Inside Llewyn Davis" from the Coen Brothers after seeing it for the first time at NYFF. This year, I've seem to already come to terms that the next film that will utilize all my energy and resources this year will be Damien Chazelle's highly intense psychological drama "Whiplash." An impeccable and tightly wound experience that brings your anxiety to a feverish level. As small, and utterly different as I'm about to compare, I haven't felt this uneasy with a film's tension since Paul Greengrass' "Captain Phillips," coincidentally also was a NYFF title. Two other similar traits that embody the two are the intense and completely submersible performances that inhabit them. Stars Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are absolutely astonishing, featuring two of the year's very best turns.

Chazelle's film tells the story of Andrew (Teller), a first year music student that seeks out and joins the prestigious school band, headed by an intense and frightening teacher Mr. Fletcher (Simmons).

Walking out of the screening I fully knew (though I fully hope to be proved wrong this year) that Miles Teller would be my "Oscar Isaac" this year. A performance that should shoot to the top of any awards consideration for a lead actor, but unfortunately will be passed over show after show. Teller is submerged in a way that we haven't seen the young actor achieve at this stage in his career. After plowing onto the scene opposite Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole," and then helming "The Spectacular Now" with complete ease and intensity, I was not expecting him to be the machine of fury and magnitude that is on display in "Whiplash." There are moments where he channels the emotional aura of performances like Tom Hulce/F. Murray Abraham in "Amadeus," as crazy as that sounds. I am so excited to see where Teller goes from here. It makes the future of film a lot more bright, knowing that someone like him will be rising up in the ranks.

Everything you've heard about J.K. Simmons is true and then some. A fully fleshed out supporting role, Chazelle doesn't write Fletcher as a caricature. He's a deeply acute individual, full of passion and acrimony. Chazelle doesn't keep Simmons at a "10," he and Simmons allow him to find a range of empathy, hatred, and cryptic allowances that will keep you at the edge of your seat. As I watched Simmons flesh out a performance that can only be described as magnificent, I kept coming back in my mind to Christoph Waltz in the Oscar-winning "Inglourious Basterds," a role that found much heat on the awards circuit. The world/all film lovers will not be able ignore the stunning presence of Simmons. A Supporting Actor nominations (maybe even a win) seems all but assured (and deserved). Looking back at the veteran actor's career that included memorable roles in "Juno," "Burn After Reading," and "Up in the Air," a role like this could not have come at a better time. Already impressive in his brief work in Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children," writers, directors, casting agents, and producers will be pounding on the actor's door.

You can't credit "Whiplash" without citing the words and control by writer/director Damien Chazelle. An amazing and outstanding sophomore effort (unfortunately have not seen his debut "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench") that channels a young Bennett Miller. Vigorous, self-assured, and innovative, Chazelle is a brilliant auteur filmmaker that knows exactly what type of films he wants to make. He takes inspiration from his own life, his love of film and music, and other places I'm sure we don't know about, and molds them into a gritty, layered experience, conditioned with rich characters, all realized through the writer's story. It's one of the best scripts of the year.

"Whiplash" features some of the best minutes of film seen in 2014. An ending that will bring tears to your eyes, dual performances that will have you applaud, and an experience that you surely will not forget. Drumming has never felt like such a personality. It acts as a visible tool for the viewer to understand and try. If you love music, appreciate education, and dare to be better than your current state, you will find something very real to latch onto. Hold on, and hold on tight.

"Whiplash" is being distributed by Sony Pictures Classics and will be released October 10 in limited release (and then expanding after). A must-see for all movie lovers!
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Pay no attention to this review, because almost everybody loves this movie.
emmecinque4 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The good parts:

The movie is very sensitively filmed. The camera relentlessly explores every bump on Teller's and Simmons's heads like a documentary about Greek sculpture. It adds a lot to the feel of the movie in a wonderfully subtle way.

Simmons and Teller (as the "Studio" band director and the, I guess, protagonist young drummer) do a great job. Simmons in particular is really the nexus of energy for the entire movie, and owns that role with absolute precision.

The music, when it's actually music, is well-chosen and well-performed.

The terrible parts:

Simmons ("Fletcher") and Teller ("Andrew") are essentially the only characters in the film. Andrew's dad and his not-really girlfriend are secondary characters that serve to remind the audience what actual humans are like. Andrew is an insufferable jerk, and Teller does an amazing job of maintaining (mostly) a stone-faced, blankly insensitive look throughout almost every tense moment of the film. Simmons's Fletcher is a superb sadistic maniac. He's not "intense" or "volatile" - he's a psychotic monster.

I'm debilitated as a reviewer because my son is a talented young drummer, so I get to see good drumming all the time. The persistent trope in the film of Andrew drumming until his hands bleed is wildly unrealistic; that basically cannot happen if you're a drummer good enough to get into a prestigious music school in the first place. Everything else about Andrew at the fancy school, upon further examination, is completely unreal. He basically never talks to the other complete non-entities in the band. They're all like POWs, obeying the maniac director unflinchingly (except when they fail, when they're abused and ejected). My son (whose judgment I trust because he's also obsessed, but not a jerk) described the silly drum "competition" as "three people who can't drum doing shitty grind-core break beats". (To be fair, he liked the movie. What can you do.)

So OK, the movie is an allegory, and not intended to be realistic. So it's an allegory about how a sadist can really help a self-absorbed jerk with some obsession get better at what they want to do? I can't find any way to sympathize with that. I mean, who is that speaking to?

Finally, the actually appropriate and yet irritatingly obtrusive product placement (pristine cymbal labels, super-clean Zildjian logo on Andrew's stick bag, etc) got pretty hard to take by the (truly weird) ending.

Go see this movie because everybody else thinks it's great, but if you feel funny afterwards maybe this review will offer some comfort that you're not alone.
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Only neat music and cinematography make this tawdry, melodramatic tale of sadomasochistic relationship between jazz conservatory student and teacher, worth watching
Turfseer6 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
In the 70s, a new genre of films aimed at black audiences emerged entitled, 'Blaxploitation'. The genre primarily glorified stereotypical "criminal" behavior in black neighborhoods. Now with Damien Chazelle's, 'Whiplash', he's invented a new genre primarily for a large coterie of Caucasian males: 'Jazzploitation', set in an elite jazz program at a Julliard-like school of higher musical instruction. Both white liberal film critics and martial arts enthusiasts alike, will enjoy this exercise in sado-masochistic shenanigans as evidenced by the plethora of rave reviews now gracing a multitude of web pages over the internet.

Don't ask any of our critics who rave about the film to require Mr. Chazelle to provide even a modicum of verisimilitude. I'm talking, of course, about how Mr. Chazelle's antagonist, the martinet music instructor, Terence Fletcher, would even last five minutes at a prestigious music conservatory, given his vast repertoire of sociopathic behavior. Oh but wait—'Whiplash' really is supposed to be more like a fable, so Mr. Chazelle is given a pass—he no longer has to be beholden to 'conventional' narratives.

But even fables should operate within a somewhat realistic world. And is it realistic to have Fletcher's co-worker shrink from him (are they all so afraid that they dare not assert themselves one bit?) Is it realistic not to see Fletcher's interactions with his supervisors (are they also completely browbeaten by him?) Would the administration allow such a person to continually humiliate his students, hurl ethnic and gay slurs, and actually throw things at the students, which could result in personal injury (possibly subjecting the school to a lawsuit?). Fletcher is clearly a caricature, who belongs in an army setting and not a music conservatory. Nonetheless, Chazelle needs the character to not only titillate us along the way but to illustrate his simplistic morality play, which entails a warning about the dangers of obsessive careerism.

Now of course various naysayers will argue that there ARE people like Fletcher who seek to bring out the best in their students by utilizing 'tough love' but such pedagogues in real life must work within the 'system' and the 'pushing' is much more subtle than what is depicted here.

The same goes for Chazelle's protagonist, Andrew Neyman, who plays the obsessed drummer student who seeks to get in the good graces of the ruthless Fletcher. Neyman is played by Miles Teller whom I liked very much in 'The Spectacular Now'. Since he plays drums in real life, Teller is pretty convincing playing the drums in the film.

But Chazelle applies the same 'sledge hammer' approach toward the character 'Neyman' as he does with 'Fletcher'. Neyman wants to 'make it' at 'any cost'. He plays the drums so hard until his hands start bleeding (various drummers posting on the internet deny they've seen cases of this); and then on his way to a competition, Neyman gets in a bad car accident, but STILL drags himself to the performance and attempts to play (Chazelle seeks to prove the inane point that Neyman is so obsessed, that he'll do anything to win—even if it means playing seriously injured and jeopardizing his own life). No really, can you see anyone doing this? But again, since this is more like a melodramatic fable, Chazelle can have his characters do the most ridiculous things, and seemingly get away with it!

Two thirds of the Whiplash plot concerns Fletcher's quest to supposedly bring out the best in his students (none of whom do we really get to know except Neyman). John Bleasdale writing in CineVue finds Fletcher's diatribes appealing: "His razor wit, sheer outrageousness, inventive taunting and vulgar insults are at once appalling and blackly funny." I agree that Fletcher's insults are appalling but "blackly funny"? Keep in mind that all the other characters who come in contact with Fletcher, have no ego, to the point that no one will oppose him. Therefore, Fletcher can get away with saying anything he feels like (some may call this 'wit', but in reality they're simply one note monologues--a set of variations on a theme).

The second act crisis manifests itself when Neyman is kicked out of school after physically attacking Fletcher. The way back toward some kind of 'equilibrium' is when Neyman agrees to give a deposition in a lawsuit that eventually leads to Fletcher's dismissal from the conservatory.

The Whiplash climax occurs after Neyman and Fletcher meet at a jazz club where Fletcher is now playing and Neyman agrees to play at a showcase. This turns out to be an ambush, since Fletcher arranges for Neyman to get up there without sheet music and he can only end up improvising (Fletcher is so demented that he's seemingly willing to sabotage the entire performance to get back at Neyman who he knows testified against him). Neyman runs off backstage into the arms of his good guy father but suddenly summons the courage to come back and play, where he dazzles, performing an extraordinary drum solo. Has Neyman triumphed after enduring the humiliating set-up? Not at all! He merely plays into Fletcher's stratagem to push him beyond his limits emotionally—even if it means that he must sacrifice his dignity and self-worth by allowing the mad sociopath to manipulate him over and over again.

In order to accept Chazelle's tawdry tale, one must accept the conventions of melodrama. Clearly it's written as heightened reality to make a point about the sadomasochistic relationship between student and teacher. While Chazelle may ultimately view his characters at a distance with the correct moral upper hand, he mirrors Tarantino, by reveling in the violence that he is also attempting to disdain. The 'Whiplash' machinations end up more tawdry and sensationalistic than compellingly tragic.

I would recommend 'Whiplash' for the excellent cinematography and of course all the neat jazz music. I'll pass on the story—due to its clear, unrealistic and melodramatic aftertaste.
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A Psychological Horror Story
proud_luddite16 February 2019
In New York, a young jazz drummer (Miles Teller) is enrolled in a prestigious music school. His ambitions are tested and manipulated by a sadistic, perfectionist music instructor (J.K. Simmons).

There are occasional moments in the film that seem far-fetched and over-the-top. But these are forgiven due to the edgy execution by director-writer Damien Chazelle and the acting.

Teller is very believable as someone whose obsession to succeed overrides his sense of safety. This is partly explained in a useful scene at the beginning of an extended family gathering where one-upmanship seemed to be the traditional form of communicating.

However, the movie belongs to Simmons who is the epitome of the authority-from-hell. He has rightly won many awards for this performance and he is likely to win more. He is so frightening when he is dominating the students that, even in the audience, there is a sigh of relief felt when he is acting more at-ease and human. His presence is that strong.

"Whiplash" ably presents the question of whether attaining genius is worth the price - at least in certain circumstances. It also succeeds as a psychological horror movie. The Simmons character is likely to be mentioned in the future as one of the movies' most memorable villains. - dbamateurcritic
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Hollywood hogwash with good technique
louisandvinny6 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
My non-musician friends love this film and insisted I see it. I've been a jazz musician for over 30 years and have taught in a jazz university for over 20. So they figured I would relate. Sorry, this is total crap and it makes me sad to think that the average guy out there thinks Kenny G is cool and this film is a hard-edged depiction of the high-pressure jazz school scene. First of all, no prof would be there a day after any of the rehearsals Terence ran, he'd be dismissed immediately (not hard to do, apparently this school didn't have tenure). And next, jazz is communication, conversation, thoughtfulness, and a big dollop of joyful soul. Any drummer with the competitive mean-spirited attitude shown by any of these students would find themselves in extremely lonely company, nobody appreciates that. This is the 21st Century equivalent of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland saying, "I know, let's build a show to save the town!" as a representation of Show Biz. it's Hollywood hokum, folks, and I resented its basic assumptions. Where is the Soul? That said, J.K. Simmons is great, working with what he's got. And the cinematography and editing are well done (what IS all that water on the cymbals we see so often? Sweat? If Elvin Jones had gained two hundred pounds he wouldn't have sweated like that! Oh well.) which is why I grudgingly added two stars to this. It's been a while since I so disliked a film. P.S. my drummer plays better than any of these guys. Hah!
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Intense movie, phenomenal J.K. Simmons but unrealistic
vithiet10 February 2019
This movie should please a wide audience of non-musicians. I am not a musician but I've seen movies based on things I know very well and it's always exaggerated and unrealistic and it usually bugs me more than other people; I can easily imagine how real musicians may dislike this one. The directing and acting are great (although J.K. Simmons steals the whole show) as are cinematography and sound. However the whole premise is wildly unrealistic, and the moral of the story "to be great you need to be pushed beyond your limits" is a tired trope that has often been done in a better way than here. On a personal note, I hate bullies with a passion and there can never be a "but it's for a good reason" excuse for bullying.
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watching teenagers being abused
unbekannternutzer9 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This movie tries so hard to display the hardships of training to be a musician that the whole image shifts into simple physical and mental abuse of human beings, in this case teenagers. As another reviewer said: it is the boot camp of music. I did not believe what I was seeing. If there was a movie where some dog-whisperer is hitting the dog and yelling at it and this would prove to be working as a method to 'educate' the dog, then people would be upset. But treating a human like that is OK? this just sickens me. yes, you can get humans to do some things by pushing them with violence. Get them into an obedient state of mind, that is simply following orders. But there is a reason why this strategy of motivation has proved to be only effective in the military: There, human lives are indeed worthless. This treatment will make you 'harder', meaning it will make you less of a human being.

When it comes to music however it is impossible to achieve great results with these methods. It can only lead to a soul- and heartless disaster. A fitting result would have been an aggression build-up in the main character which would have prevented him from ever playing anything worth listening to again. This reaction has been seen in other movies where usually the people that are socially connected to the main character will have to suffer from the violent state of mind that this mistreatment is causing. The other possibility is a simple resignation, either by quitting music or by quitting life.

But what is displayed here is wrong on many levels, because it tells you that this abuse leads to something beautiful. That it is all worth it because it pushes you to your limits and then you will be a great musician. Whoever made up this story is either suffering from a severe psychosis or has the intent to justify abusive methods in education by presenting them as effective.

If you treat people with violence they will get violent too. Either towards others or towards themselves. This is the only result you will achieve. And in this case it would also completely destroy the main character's ability to be a musician. Music is not the military. You do need discipline and training, but this comes from mental strength. And you do not get stronger by being abused. It will only weaken you.

It makes me sad seeing that apparently this movie is entertaining to people. This can only be the case if they do not see the utter failure in judgment that is presented here. And if they do not see it then they are blind in a way that is worrying.
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Astonishing performance
xiaohei-801123 November 2019
This is a very unique movie even u are not into jazz but still can drew u into the atmosphere of it without moving your eyes.My eyes were dry after seeing this movie.Miles and Jk portray it flawless .Jk remind me of ex employer will use your weakness background against you if anything go wrong.Director done very well using camera angle to capture the face of the actor to create the tension in it.Have to admit I hate Fletcher brutal teaching, but most of the music icons were pushing to their limit practice to perfectly everyday,so he is not entirely wrong also.just my fantasy,it will be great if this movie can use 120fps technology to capture the facial expressions of two lead actors.
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Full Metal Fame Jacket...Or something.
loopsample24 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I gave it 28 minutes. That was generous, in that I knew it was going to be terrible within about 2.

I've been to music school. It's not like this. The teachers aren't like this. No one's like this (obviously I'm referring to 'Hollywood idea of what a hard-ass music teacher might be like in some weird juvenile negative fantasy' Fletcher).

I switched off when he threw a chair at Andrew the drum prodigy and then slapped him. SLAPPED him. Repeatedly. In front of a whole, cowed class of what, in legal terms, would be called witnesses to an assault, for playing slightly fast, the first time he's ever played to him in a band practice.

I'm sorry, what?! Where does this/would this/has this ever happened? In a Charles Dickens novel about a jazz drum student, possibly. In anything even vaguely purporting to be based on real life now, um...No.

I'm stunned. Yet another IMDb/Metacritic/Rotten Tomatoes gush-fest that is so laughably bad, you have to check the page again to really believe it's got such high praise.

Excruciating nonsense.
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Disgusting nonsense...
kenahepyu25 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I find it very sad that so many people - including so-called professional reviewers - have rated this crap so highly. I did not walk out (although I was greatly tempted to do so) but saw it to the end. A total waste of time.

Here's what might spoil it for you, should you believe the BS that's being spread around this stinking pile of excrement: It could have actually been OK if it hadn't been so laughably impossibly ridiculous. Perhaps if it had been set in the fifties or the forties when people had much less developed consciousness of human rights? But even so...

I suppose the moral/lesson we are supposed to learn is... if you can't warp your students enough by abuse to force them to become great musicians then it is perfectly alright to discard or destroy them in the attempt.

This glorified tyrant and bully can himself only produce music at a grade one level and so because he cannot 'do' he 'teaches?'

He does not teach, he does not inspire; he withholds approval, negatively reinforces and rules by fear, and is feared rather than respected. I would have a difficult time to point to a single (pedagogical) scene in the film that had any merit whatsoever or was worth watching for any reason. Maybe I should say that its evident popularity may be evidence that we are truly living in the end times... ha!

See the film if you want to be current, but please decide for yourself from watching it and don't believe the hype about its 'genius' or 'brilliance.' It is not either of those things; it's a poorly written, sad joke.
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Moronic, pointless, and full of crap
jake_fantom26 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
If you are a believer in the clichéd notion that success can only come from obsessive dedication to the exclusion of all normal human interaction, coupled with mountains of degradation, suffering, humiliation, and physical torture, you will absolutely adore this worthless pile of clichés, stereotypes, and bankrupt cinematic ideas. The story of a young jazz drummer who is brutalized by a sadistic teacher in the interests of spurring him to greatness is one of the most repulsive exercises in sheer idiocy ever committed to the screen. I watched and watched, waiting for some valid point to emerge from scenes of torment, bleeding hands, broken relationships, hideous nastiness and all the rest, but in the end, all we get is a whopping nonsensical cliché that only a fool could buy into. J.K. Simmons (the psychologist from Law and Order) does a credible job as the sadistic teacher, but honestly, no one could do much with a part this stereotypical... he couldn't have been more villainous unless he had a mustache to twirl. And the rest of the cast doesn't do any better with their phony baloney parts. Folks, if you don't have a credible story based in some form of recognizable and believable reality, nothing else matters. The fact that this one gets such a high rating on IMDb proves that HL Mencken was right: No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.
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Jazz fiction
juanmartinrevilla17 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
(biased but educated review from a jazz drummer student)

I give 3 points because:

-the movie is entertaining (wich for me is a major factor)

i take seven because:

-The plot is 100% unbelievable.

-The idea portrayed here that to get better at jazz drumming (or for that matter any music genre and any musical instrument) you have to injure yourself, suffer psychologically and practice with tension in your hands/arms is exactly the opposite of what playing/practicing jazz drumming is.

The only way to get better is practicing relaxed an being constant...improving in baby, but solid steps.

-There is a special accent on playing fast as hell as a mean to be considered "the greatest", and also indirectly in the importance of reading musical scores, when in reality, jazz drumming is a lot more about feel and dynamics, , creativity, coordination and improvisation (without reading any musicl score at all but knowing the form of the song and listening to the other players to interact in the moment).

So the movie is a fiction, but not tagged as if. The only thing that can relate with reality is that it can be considered a caricature of a very turbulent student-teacher relationship. Also can be considered a good way to show teachers and students WHAT NOT TO DO.
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Terrible, unrealistic portrayal of a beautiful art form (Jazz)
jhthomas200221 November 2014
Whiplash is a terrible, unrealistic movie. First of all, of all the musical forms in popular culture, Jazz is one of the most relaxed and organic. The fact that the music director is characterized as disciplinarian is reminiscent of the "classical" genre of 60+ year ago (Toscanini, Bruno Walter, etc.), where musical directors ruled with an almost fascist like iron fist. This changed years ago in "classical" music and was NEVER the case in Jazz. I am a former professional Jazz and classical musician who studied at top music schools, and creating great Jazz is about relaxing and being in the moment, not being frightened to the point of crying because of an evil music director.

Secondly, within the first 20 minutes of the movie, the music director throws a chair at the student and then slaps him!! This is called ASSAULT, and would NEVER happen (or more to the point, be tolerated), in any academic institution, minor or major! Certainly not in the US (or in New York City, as in this case.) This alone completely discredits this movie in my opinion. It's an unrealistic piece of crap that should not ever had been made!! This movie is a discredit to the beautiful art form that is Jazz and an insult to all who teach and play it.
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Bitches Whew
chaos-rampant23 March 2015
If this is already diminishing in my estimation minutes after watching, it's because it's about subjects that are dear to me, music, concentration, meaning in life and placement of ourselves in the larger music, but it has no insights to impart, or none that I have any use for.

The whole is about ego pummeling away in the effort to be someone in the eyes of others rather than the joy of the craft itself, about clinging on to achievement than flowing on the creativity of the moment, about perfecting technique than cultivating soul, what Spanish musicians know as duende; the deep urge that rises from the body and cries to express itself as music.

Now I'm not a fanatic jazzist who thinks the music should be portrayed in this or that original light, the film may well be seen after all to be about confused individuals who miss the point, a bad teacher. But the bad teacher who hammers home a trivial point is the filmmaker.

We see how this clinging is more or less disastrous for everyone, how it derails them from expressing soul. It's also what puts them back on the stage. But I miss the deeper and softer insight here, for which jazz is a model, that we should indeed strive to perfect our craft, but that's so we can be able to use it freely and without obstruction, so that we can pierce through the sheet, the notation, to the real hum of music that spontaneously unfolds in the room where we play with others, become the instrument for music that plays itself.

The film is in the end as small as what it shows, unable to pierce from merely polished technique to wonder or let go of fixation with accomplishment to begin immersion in fulfillment.

It ends just as it would have to do that. It all builds up to a last scene of dueling between master and student for room in the stage that finally perhaps sublimates all the ego and hardship in music that sweeps both. In that scene we have a frantic display of ego as determination, but is his drum solo great music or merely an elaborate flourish apart from the music that the music has to stop for?

And this extends in a cinematic way, the scene is adroitly edited but is it anything more than a piece of mastered technique, mechanical?

(I wrote last year about a film called A Spell to Ward off the Darkness which has a much more spacious swimming of the cinematic eye, also incidentally between instruments on a stage, but faced the same conundrum, soul wasn't there, duende. This is bar none the most striking limit in expression with a camera since the beginning of cinema, one that every great maker strives to push back. Many have.)
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