When we come across a movie like Whiplash, it’s hard to not oversell it. It is no fun for an audience member to go into a film with the highest of expectations and then to be only slightly wowed and not overwhelmed. But, unfortunately, that happens all the time.
This may be a bold statement, but that will not happen with our Whiplash review. The J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller starring drama will likely give you Whiplash from its supreme power. It is excellence personified, and right here and now, we can say that Simmons is a lock for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of an abusive collegiate music teacher who believes that his methods are not asinine, but merely motivation of the highest order for his students.
As teased in the Whiplash trailer, Teller is Andrew, a drum prodigy who is an early year student in a New York City music university that is painted as one of the best in the country. Simmons’ Professor Fletcher is considered “the” jazz music teacher to get in good with as he oversees the premier jazz band at the school that is known throughout the land for its award-winning performances.
Fletcher sees something in Teller and a relationship is born. At first, Teller appreciates his maniac mentor’s teaching style as he truly believes that it will turn him from good drummer to someone who is considered one of the best who ever played. But then, Fletcher and his teachings become too much for Teller and something has to break. But, what it is you won’t hear from us because the way writer-director Damien Chazelle has crafted Whiplash, the final act of his film will leave you breathless, mesmerized and stunned beyond belief.
Whiplash is unlike anything we have seen in a long time. It is the rare music movie that works beyond notes and beats. This is a character study where it is done at such a level, forget the Oscars, we think this is a should be sent to the Library of Congress now type of quality.
Teller had a background in drumming, but practiced to the point where Chazelle would not have to use a “stunt” drummer so that the power of the performance would ring true. That goes so far in Whiplash as Teller is a revelation of reserved power that is new for the actor. He usually plays the cocky guy and is humbled and then finds his way back. Yet in his latest film, he has his confidence built up, reinforced by his talent, and then torn down through a series of events that would weaken anyone.
But, it is how he responds to that that gives Whiplash its lightning bolt of brilliance. The way the film hits you over the head is a welcome cinematic concussion that we want to experience again and again and again.
Our Whiplash review thinks that this is the Best Picture of the Year. Clearly, this is only October and a slew of other Oscar contenders have yet to grace our screens. Will Whiplash be one of the ten potential nominees? We would bet on it.