The movie theater was still. The audience - composed of less than ten movie-goers - were on the edge of their seats, if not sunk deep in their chairs’ cushiony comforts. Everyone seemed to have forgotten how to breathe, and could only manage to let out a shrill laugh or an exasperated ‘whew’ as a lively jazz tune played and the movie credits rolled.
They had just been whiplashed by Whiplash - the electrifying jazz music drama written and directed by Damien Chazelle.
The film follows 19-year-old aspiring musician Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) and his pursuit of greatness to become the best jazz drummer of his generation.
Promising and gifted with an unmatched persistence, Andrew attends the hypercompetitive fictional Shaffer Conservatory of Music in New York, and joins the elite student band after being invited by respected conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons)- a tyrant of a maestro, who grips his students with an iron fist, pushing them beyond their limits.
Moving an inch closer to his dream, Andrew endures the kind of hell that comes with practicing in Fletcher’s band, raising the bar of what blood, sweat, and tears truly means.
“Whiplash”, which made its smashing debut at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival back in January, is nothing short of brilliant.
Inspired by his experiences playing in a Harvard University band, Chazelle brings an unforgettable and thrilling story that might just be the best movie that this year has seen yet. It has, in fact, been receiving Oscar buzzes already.
The spotlight also shines bright for Simmons and Teller, who have both delivered impeccable performances as the abusive mentor and tormented prodigy.
While Simmons takes the meat for his monstrous presence in the film as the führer that Fletcher is, Teller - who is recently seen channeling his inner groove in "Footloose", making people laugh in bro comedies like “That Awkward Moment” and “21 & Over”, or peeving “Divergent” fans for his portrayal of the antagonistic Peter – breaks through and steals each scene with his soulful and vulnerable Andrew.
“Whiplash” is not just a film about music. It is also a vivid image of the pain and perseverance that goes with one’s passion and pursuit of glory. Quoting Fletcher, “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job.”
Watch the trailer:
-I do not own any of the photos used above.
-A shortened version of this review was published in the 24 October, 2014 (Friday) issue of the Manila Bulletin under the column of my internship mentor, Sir Nestor Cuartero.
-Read the column here: http://www.mb.com.ph/whiplashed-by-jazz-film/