Review by Clay Bloodworth
The performance that Miles Teller gives in Damien Chazelle’s new film Whiplash reminded me a lot of Robert De Niro’s in Raging Bull. They both play tenacious, unrelenting characters and do so in a way that can’t be forgotten and stays with the viewer long after the movie’s over. They may be pursuing different things, De Niro with boxing and Teller with drumming, but they’re each after the same goal: greatness. And that’s what this film is all about, reaching a goal that is relative to the person trying to achieve it.
In this case, it centers around a guy who never feels understood. He’s attending the most prestigious music school in the country and is constantly working to be “one of the greats” — who, in his eyes, is someone like Buddy Rich. Then, unexpectedly, he’s given a chance to prove his chops on the renowned studio band instructed by Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). He’s soon met with Fletcher’s abusive teaching tactics and is continuously tested under pressure. The question is, can he withstand?
It tests the psyche of a young man and shows how far a person will go for something they love and want to do for the rest of their life. That being said, it’s a harsh movie. The audience is thrown right into the pressure cooker along with Teller, and if you’re not ready for it, it can be unsettling and scary. But that’s one of the main reasons why I liked it. Not only does it test the main character, it tests the viewer. You also can’t deny the masterful performances on display and finesse that the director brings along with them. Needless to say, this is a must-see. If I had seen it in 2014, it would’ve undoubtedly made my top ten.