There’s a fine line between passion and obsession, particularly when depicted on film. Obsession = bunny boiling. Passion = teacher fights for the educational rights of their students. Obsession = transforming yourself into your roommate. Passion = a doctor using unconventional means to improve the lives of his patients. In the new film ‘Whiplash’, while fine, that line becomes very, very blurry to both audience and the protagonist, causing you to walk away still debating which side of the line this film falls on.
19-year-old Andrew (Miles Teller) is a junior jazz drummer at one of the most prestigious music conservatories in the United States. The halls are filled with wannabe greats, the shadows of past greats and megalomaniac instructor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), whose bipolar demeanour and tyrannical methods are as infamous as they come. When scouted by Fletcher to join the school’s top ensemble, Andrew stops at nothing and sacrifices everything to stay in that top position.
‘Whiplash’ has the intensity, grit, physicality and emotional manipulation reserved for a sports film like ‘Any Given Sunday’ or ‘Friday Night Lights’ - only this time, lives are on the line in the pursuit of perfection and validation in the cut-throat world of jazz. Everything is at stake with the end goal of becoming a professional musician - someone to be admired, respected and, most importantly, valued. The characters depicted on screen believe there is nothing worse in this life than being ordinary, and therefore are unable to settle for anything less than extraordinary.
‘Whiplash’ has the intensity, grit, physicality and emotional manipulation reserved for a sports film.
Teller and Simons have delved deep into the dark, bitter depths of their characters and left nothing on the table. You want to hate these people, yet have to admire their ambition, wishing we too could possess that kind of passion.
Writer/director Damien Chazelle and his two stars perform a sensational magic trick, feeding the audience psychological cracks and breaks obvious to the casual observer, readily devoured without a second thought. However you're sure to be surprised by the epic conclusion no one will see coming - including those on screen.