Film Review: WHIPLASH


Directed by Damien Chazelle
Written by Damien Chazelle
Starring Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist

WHIPLASH tells the story of Andrew Neyman, (Teller) an 18 year old jazz drummer studying at a prestigious music academy and the teacher (Simmons) that discovers him, mentors him, and nearly drives him out of music as well as his mind.

Although there are scenes with his father (Reiser) and a potential love interest (Benoist) the film is largely a pas de deux between student and teacher.

What might seem to be a traditional coach/student plot was elevated by a number of things. The student ‘s obsession for his art, his need to be acknowledged the best—in other words his narcissism—makes him a more complex character than in most such films. The film’s unwillingness to let Fletcher (Simmons) off the hook, to ever give him a dollop of humanity was also brave. And then there is the music—startlingly beautiful. Scenes of Teller striving behind those drums were just thrilling.

For me this was a terrific look at what makes an artist, what makes a sadist, and how we respond to both. Can we produce first-class artists in a more benign setting? I hope so. Highly recommended.

Patti Abbott