Review: Whiplash

The road to greatness can take you to the edge

Rating: Great (8 of 10)

Recently I went to the local cinema ( and watched Whiplash, a movie about a student named Andrew Nieman who wants to become a famous drummer. He even aims to become one of the greatest drummers, remembered forever and is working amazingly hard to reach his goal.

Terence Fletcher: There are no two words in the English language more harmful than “good job”.

On his way to success he meets Terence Fletcher, a teacher at the college where is studying. A respected and feared teacher, by pupils and colleagues. He has a Jazz Band and is looking for students who are talented enough, according to his requirements. After some encounters Andrew gets the chance to play in his band as a drummer, starting as a Backup drummer who has to flip the pages for the main drummer.

Andrew, the student is played by Miles Teller and we will see him soon again in “Fantastic Four”, playing Reed Richards, can’t wait to see that. He is amazingly talented, presenting the audience a talented hard-working student who wants to make it, become famous and the costs do not matter. We see him sitting day and night at his drum set, playing til the hands bleed. The scenes where Miles really astonishing are first the ones where he is confronted with the sadistic brutal force called Terence Fletcher, here he receives full sympathy for not giving up. Second there are many quiet scenes with his father played by the wonderful Paul Reiser and when he sits alone, by himself in his flat.

Fletcher, the teacher is played by J. K. Simmons, and I want to stay with a comic adaption where he played a quite famous role, mainly J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man, amazingly fitting. In the role as a sadistic teacher he offers so much more, I dare say that he goes beyond anything he played so far. He shows us a character which is quite difficult, obsessed with the idea of teaching the right way by using cruel even abusive methods, we see a sadistic emotional unstable person. Someone who shouldn’t be confronted with people, not even close to students.

The movie is written and directed by Damien Chazelle, someone who is quite new on this stage. The story itself is a little bit “Full Metal Jacket meets Rocky with Jazz Music”. We see a full force sadist who is not ashamed of crying and lying in front of his students, a highly talented student with slight sociopathic tendencies.

There are even some moments where the dialogues themselves are fast, like the drum-staccatos that are played within the movies. There is one scene at the dinner table with Andrew’s family that left us breathless for a moment, I would really have appreciated it to have break afterwards and I’m used to Kevin Smith movies.

Uncle Frank: You got any friends, Andy?
Andrew: No.
Uncle Frank: Oh, why’s that?
Andrew: I don’t know, I just never really saw the use.
Uncle Frank: Well, who are you going to play with otherwise? Lennon and McCartney, they were school buddies, am I right?
Andrew: Charlie Parker didn’t know anybody ’til Jo Jones threw a cymbal at his head.
Uncle Frank: So that’s your idea of success, huh?
Andrew: I think being the greatest musician of the 20th century is anybody’s idea of success.
Jim: Dying broke and drunk and full of heroin at the age of 34 is not exactly my idea of success.
Andrew: I’d rather die drunk, broke at 34 and have people at a dinner table talk about me than live to be rich and sober at 90 and nobody remembered who I was.
Uncle Frank: Ah, but your friends will remember you, that’s the point.
Andrew: None of us were friends with Charlie Parker. *That’s* the point.
Uncle Frank: Travis and Dustin? They have plenty of friends and plenty of purpose.
Andrew: I’m sure they’ll make great school board presidents someday.
Dustin: Oh, that’s what this is all about? You think you’re better than us?
Andrew: You catch on quick. Are you in Model UN?
Travis: I got a reply for you, Andrew. You think Carleton football’s a joke? Come play with us.
Andrew: Four words you will never hear from the NFL.
Aunt Emma: Who wants dessert?

I am looking forward to future projects of Damien Chazelle, it looks promising. From my point of view the movie, the whole team completely earned the recognintion they earned by critics and audiences all over the world. This is an terrifying, electrifying movie with non-stop suspense until the very end.

Apart from all that – the music is great, I am quite a fan of Jazz Music but there are some wonderful pieces played here – and if you will make it until the end you will be rewarded! If .. this actually happened for real and I was sitting in the audience I would have been astonished, breathless forthe whole performance!

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