Rarely does a film come along that is in perfect alignment: flawlessly acted, magnificently written/ directed, rhythmically stunning, an electrifying story that clings to the conscience long after experiencing; “Whiplash” is an experience not to be missed.
Miles Teller sinks his sensational skills into the role of “Andrew Neyman”; a portrait of a young man’s obscene obsession, a maniacal drive to become the greatest drummer of the twenty-first century; his frenzied portrayal borders on genius; bleeding hands, pulsating, sweat-soaked body ooze with liquid ambition; all-consuming determination, passion cauterizing, destroying balance, boundaries, normalcy; any price to rise above obscurity.
J.K. Simmons is positively profound as Andrew’s music teacher/coach “Terence Fletcher”; his gruesome, brutal, psychologically pulverizing techniques, designed to extract the best from his students/victims; scathing, pejorative, denigrating racial, sexual, physical slurs, bludgeons, flays his young pupils emotional equilibrium; only the fittest survive. Yet hidden beneath his vile vituperation lies a flimsy sensitivity; writer/director Damien Chazelle cleverly unveils this subtle streak.
Jazz, America’s indigenous musical art form evolved in the late nineteenth, early twentieth- century; spawning musical masters: Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Billy Holliday, Louis Armstrong; “Whiplash” is a phenomenal, justified homage to the genre.
Seething, permeating, defining the film is the role of a teacher/coach; blistering, emasculating intimidation, lacerating egos; where is the line drawn between coaching and obliterating cruelty; how effective are these tools? The exquisiteness of “Whiplash” it that the issue remains unresolved, debatable, enigmatic.