Whiplash is a movie about a first-year jazz drummer making his way in the Shaffer Conservatory of Music in New York. He dreams of achieving greatness, and is therefore subjected to being pushed beyond his limits by his cruel, demanding, and abusive music teacher.
Miles Teller plays the naive, hopeful first-year jazz student that has dreams of making it big in the Jazz world. J.K. Simmons plays his abusive teacher that pushes him and pushes him and just never stops. It’s intense… and almost makes you feel as if the jazz world were an arena or a battlefield of gladiators.
Teller is utterly believable and endearing at the beginning of the movie, and then we see him change and transform into a darker, more focused, crazier version of himself as he becomes obsessed with winning the appraisal of his teacher. J.K Simmons won the oscar for best supporting actor for this role, and he was just brutal… he doesn’t care about his student’s mental health, or their safety, or their satisfaction. All he cares about is achieving greatness, pushing the brightest among them beyond what they can endure.
The film is often jarring, sometimes embarrassing, and at times incredible. What I liked most about it is the fact that it’s not a tragedy. I don’t want to give anything away, but this isn’t a sob story, as much as it could easily have turned into one. And that’s what makes this movie great… it showcases brilliancy in the end, even if it takes some twists and turns through crazy-ville to get there.
This is what makes every cringe-worthy, jaw-dropping scene in the whole fanfare worth it.