Whiplash is a movie about music, ambition, dedication, persistence, and power. The central story is that of a would be drummer at a top musical school, egged on by a dangerously manipulative teacher, who will go well beyond the normal boundaries of encouragement to get the best out of his students.
Miles Teller plays the part of the drummer Andrew and is perfect. He’s a real drummer, which is a big advantage. But do not let that detract from his actual acting performance. He can play the drums, but he can also act.
Jonathan Kimble Simmons is the abusive teacher (and conductor and band leader) called Fletcher and his performance is equally good. It’s a great role, and he delivers it with gusto. I expect he really enjoyed the part, and that comes across in his very natural poise and presence through a variety of key scenes.
Beyond that, there is a plot that has a bit of padding and couple of well done nasty twists, and the music.
First, the plot. There’s a bit of padding with some love interest between Andrew and a young girl, and there’s also Andrew’s family situation featuring a single parent father.
Oh, the music. The focus here is on jazz music. I don’t like jazz music. There were times when I could have done with less of the music, but I expect my opinion to be a minority one. Further, it may be taken as greater praise that I liked the film despite the music!
Go see it. It’s a smart film with a bit more depth than the ‘boy out to make his way in the world’ story might sound like. And if you like jazz, you would be mad to miss it.