Director: Damien Chazelle // Year of release: 2014 // Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser…
Seen in December 2014
Synopsis: A promising young drummer enrols at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. (IMDb)
Whiplash got a lot of attention when it won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Sundance film festival in early 2014.
In France, the movie was released on Christmas Day 2014. Merry Christmas. I went to see it in the theatre as soon as I could. And I felt like I got slapped in the face (or thrown a bucket of ice water, take your pick). This movie was so good.
I am writing this as I go along, so please bear with me, it might get a little messy.
I will confess that it had been a long time since I went to see an “independent” movie in the theatre, I have grown accustomed to blockbusters and superhero movies, so this felt like a breath of fresh air.
From the get go, you know that this will be a story about the characters, characters who feel real and anchored into the “real world”, like you might actually see Andrew (Teller) and his dad at the movies, or know about that one teacher (Simmons) who terrorises his students. Andrew’s passion in life is drumming and jazz music, and his dream is to become “one of the greats”, he wants to become a drummer in a jazz ensemble and is prepared to give himself 100% to the task. The kid is full of dreams and ambition, and when he is chosen by the most vicious — yet praised — music conductor of the school to integrate his jazz ensemble, Andrew practices day and night to be up to par and prove himself worthy of the opportunity that has been given to him.
In that movie, nothing feels forced, nothing feels like it doesn’t belong. Every frame is there because is has a purpose, and every frame helps you understand the characters and what they’re going through. I found myself completely ignoring the subtitles (thank God my town’s theatre showed the movie in English, but of course they have to provide subtitles) to focus entirely on the screen, the frames, the characters. I wanted no distraction and being able to see everything.
I thought the acting was incredible. J.K. Simmons had just gotten himself a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the upcoming Golden Globes, and I can definitely see why. I am a little disappointed that Miles Teller didn’t get a nomination as well, because he was absolutely amazing. According to the director, he did about 80% of the actual drumming in the movie; as someone who doesn’t know a thing about drumming it might be easy for me to say, but this in itself is such a great accomplishment! But apart from the drumming, his acting (obviously) was really really good as well. Some of his most powerful scenes are when he doesn’t even speak. You can read everything on his face.
Well… As you may have noticed, I really did like that movie, and to be honest, I wouldn’t say no to another screening. If you have the chance to see that movie, definitely do! You won’t be sorry.
This concludes my first movie review. I am good at giving star ratings, but when it comes to writing down my thoughts, it all becomes quite confused; I hope it wasn’t too bad. I do not always write reviews, but you can keep track of what I’m watching on Letterboxd.
On this blog I will try to write reviews for all the movies I see in a movie theatre, and some of the movies I watch at home if I feel I have something to say about them. Let me know what you think about this 🙂 .