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Movie Review: Whiplash

 

By Jason Ooi

There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job.

It’s a good thing that the words good job don’t come close to cutting it when describing the greatness of Damien Chazelle’s sophomore film Whiplash.

When the film ended and the credits began to roll, the entire of the theater lay silent before completely erupting in applause. Completely breathless, confined to my chair, I was gasping for air and reduced to shivers. Even as I sit here now, an hour later, I can only barely find the words to describe my experience with this film.

At its core, Whiplash is a film about perfection. It follows ambitious 19 year-old jazz drummer Andrew Neyman as he attends his first year at Schaefer Music Conservatory, where he is mentored by the cutthroat and ruthless Terence Fletcher. It follows his journey as he tries to become not “just great”, but “one of the greats” as he sacrifices all of the non-essentials to realize and fulfill this dream.

The film stars two amazing leads in Miles Teller and J.K Simmons, both of which simultaneously provide motivation and foil for each other’s characters. Teller captures the commitment and devotion of Andrew perfectly, through fictional blood, tears, and sweat, and the very real dedication to drumming outside of the film that gave the film so much of its energy. He provides J.K. Simmons a great contrast, and really helps Simmons forge Fletcher as a fearsome, intimidating mentor.

The film explores the depths of ambition. It delves into the true zeal for one’s passion, and is extremely relevant in every single person out there’s life. Andrew isn’t just some good drummer striving to be the best, he’s representative of every single person who has ever existed spanning across every time period, striving to be the best at what they do. Likewise, Simmons isn’t just a violent conductor, spitting vulgarities at every mistake, he’s everyone that has ever given criticism or begot inspiration. These two main characters, brought to life through the brilliance of their actors, are the epitomes of their own depictions, making Whiplash and its character’s infinitely relatable. Simultaneously, this film bears morals, it teaches of resilience and of the necessity of independence from past educators.

The score, which was absolutely invigorating and beautiful, created such a hectic but soulful atmosphere, which when paired with Chazelle’s quick editing and beautiful electrifying cuts, really causes the film to flow like the music that it utilizes so perfectly. Despite hardly considering myself a music dilettante, (especially to the more refined sounds of jazz,) I still found myself inexplicably dreading the end to each performance. There was something about the melodies and the characters performing them that was captivating.

Chazelle, in only his second film to grace the screens, created such a phenomenal intense film. His ability to draw emotion, to convey passion; to make a one hundred minute movie feel like a lucid daydream is a grand testament to the caliber of his film making in Whiplash. It’s fierce, bold, unrelenting on the senses, and the best movie of 2014 so far, all phrases more suited for describing this film than a mere good job.

 

For more film reviews, go to jasonwatchesmovies.com

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