Film Review: Whiplash

Whiplash

Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash is magnificent, unrelenting, masterfully crafted cinema.

Andrew is a promising young drummer studying at a prestigious music conservatory. Andrew dreams of greatness, something that his band instructor will stop at nothing to extract…

Whiplash is an exemplary film, with plenty of cause to praise and nothing to criticise. Writer and director Damien Chazelle has done an excellent job in crafting a film that hits all the high notes.

From its premise, it might be difficult to see how a film about a drummer and his teacher could be tense, consuming and enthralling. However, this is exactly what Whiplash is. Chazelle wisely reveals enough about his protagonists to make the audience empathise, without weighing a buoyant narrative down with character development.

The story in Whiplash is constructed so the audience identifies with Andrew, the determined young drummer. He is flawed, yet in an underdog position which makes viewers root for him. Fletcher is more complex in that he comes across as a bully, but not necessarily a bad guy.

The cat and mouse dynamic between these two protagonists is a delight to watch. The burgeoning relationship keeps the audience on their toes; it is difficult to second guess what will happen next. The delicious, sting-in-the-tail finale is a masterstroke by Chazelle.

Editing in Whiplash is superb in heightening tension. The cinematography is also effective in illustrating the exhaustion of the demands put on Andrew. J.K. Simmons is a tour de force as Fletcher. His performance is convincing and always compelling. Miles Teller is also fantastic is Andrew. He brings as intensity to the role that is astounding in pivotal scenes.

Whiplash is a fantastic film, which should leave viewers eager to see more from Damien Chazelle. Must-see cinema.

Whiplash is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2014.

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