Jazz is one of my passions, so it’s hard for me to write about it objectively. “Whiplash” touches two things that I keep in high regard, drumming and jazz, so its odds were extreme. It could’ve been very bad or very good. There’s no middle with passion. I’m happy to say that very good it is.
If you’ve ever seen “Black Swan” then you know the basic plot. We have talented artist who reaches over the limit, and we have eccentric musical pedagogue who tries to achieve that same limit through his students. In the basic plot like this two main actors are very important, and “Whiplash” is not an exception. Miles Teller and J. K. Simmons are two forces that are making this film great. Two forces in conflict, with only music and its own unpredictable nature between them. When Andrew (Teller) comes to the prestige jazz orchestra led by Fletcher (Simmons) their relationship starts to evolve from adoration to hate, from respect to obnoxiousness. “Whiplash” doesn’t have black & white characters. Both of the main ones are in the same time positive and negative of the story. Ambition can lead you to greatness, but it can also lead you to arrogance. Thin line between greatness and arrogance is that sweet-spot hit by “Whiplash”.
Damien Chazelle has written and directed “Whiplash” and I wonder what he will do next. I mentioned already “Black Swan” by Aronofsky. When I was watching some directorial cuts in “Whiplash” I had associations on “Black Swan”. Difference, and for the better for me, it is that “Whiplash” doesn’t try to bite too much at once (as for me BS did). Chazelle knew what’s in his focus and he exploited that strength to the very end. Dialogues and conflicts of Andrew and Fletcher are strong and sometimes just a gesture is enough to see beneath the aggression or politeness, whatever (depends on which of the two protagonists choose to be).
Movie is only lacking in characterization of supporting actors. Support is often a cliché of storytelling, there just to fill the plot-holes when in need, and their only true function is to give us even better picture about two “main dogs” in the battlefield. Plot is somewhat predictable great acting keeps it interesting nonetheless. Parallels with “Black Swan” are even clearer in the great finale.
“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job.”
That quote gives us an intro to the final scene of the movie. That final scene by itself gives the movie one grade up. I like jazz, I’ve written so above. When you ask me am I dragging or rushing I will tell you that I’m stunned. There is a pause in my music. That was my exact reaction after the credits appeared. Everything was predictable, everything was about “mad dogs in the battlefield” and everything was so good that I cannot tell – good job.
You got me Fletcher, you maniac. Drumroll please…
“Whiplash”… Rating: 9/10, IMDB