The first draft of this post was 300 words, all in capitals. I wrote this immediately after the credits ended for Whiplash. I wanted to get down my emotions as quickly as I could before I had chance to cool off, I wanted my review to really capture the emotions I was feeling during and after Whiplash.
RAW, ANGER, PASSION, BLOOD, FIGHT, CRASH, EXTREME, FRICTION, FIRE, TENSION, RELEASE, RELENTLESS.
Those were some of the words I wrote for the first draft.
I was intrigued when I first saw a trailer for Whiplash a couple of months ago. I assumed that the film was based from a true story, or at least, the experiences of actual people, but I’m not sure why I thought this. After some research, I found out that it was not really a true story but more a combination of experiences experienced by writer and director Damien Chazelle when he was in a jazz band and a merging of notorious band leaders and his own.
Personally, I really like jazz music but I don’t really know much about it. When I was younger I played violin, but I don’t think I ever really had a grasp at it and eventually I quit. Over the years I’ve always been in awe of musicians and regarded them with the uppermost respect, sometimes secretly wishing I could play piano or the drums or wishing I would have really stuck at violin.
Thinking back to the short time I played violin, I remember my teacher being quite strict. Despite this I really remember liking her and even looking up to her. In fact, looking back on school, the teachers I remember most are the ones who were strict. My math teacher was notorious for being on the scary side, but I always respected and admired his teaching skills. I always wanted to push myself for him. I don’t think I would have passed math if it wasn’t for him teaching me.
So what has this got to do with the film Whiplash? Well, what I’m trying to say is that this story line is quite simple, and in some respects, a universal story line that most people will probably be able to relate to in one way or another. But this film takes this ‘simple’, uncomplicated story line and makes absolute magic with it. Miles Teller plays Andrew Neiman, a jazz drummer who is attending one of the best music schools in America. He eventually gets chosen to be an alternate drummer on notorious school maestro, Terence Fletcher (played by J. K. Simmons) and eventually Andrew’s whole life revolves around playing the drums and trying to impress Fletcher…who is more than just strict.
At the same time, this film is not so universal. In some respects this film is specifically talking to those people who have raw passion inside of them, bubbling at the surface. This film is for those people who would do ANYTHING for their dream, anything for their passion, do anything to be ‘one of the greats’ as Andrew puts it.
In Andrew’s family he is surrounded by people who don’t understand his passion or his achievements and so they overlook him. This just pushes Andrew even more. Friends, love, money. Everything else is secondary to him.
So like I said, I like jazz, I just don’t know anything about it. Doesn’t matter. Even if you don’t like jazz, honestly, it wont matter. This film has electric running through it, it has a pulse. The characters in the film are so intense, so extreme, I honestly didn’t want to blink. Simmons who plays the maestro, Fletcher, was unreal. His emotional manipulation, emotional and physical abuse he inflicted on the band members was hard to watch. His character gave me whiplash, seriously, I understand why they chose that title. One second you feel great as Andrew has a breakthrough with his drumming, next thing you feel angry and shocked as Fletcher has once again taken the rug out from under his feet just as he had landed. It was like being constantly shoved in both directions.
But one thing that always remained the same was Andrews determination and passion for drumming.
I had my fist clenched throughout this film. Watching Andrew drum until his hands bled, dripping with sweat, screaming over the music was honestly one of the most intense things I’ve ever watched. It was intense because it felt so real, and in ways I could relate to what he was feeling on so many occasions. Whiplash was exhilarating, I just wanted to see Andrew achieve his dreams because they were so so important to him. His passion for jazz and drumming was palpable through the screen and it really made me think about my own passion for cinema and writing and the lengths I would go to to be ‘one of the greats.’
The ending of this film was so intense I can’t even describe it to you, and even if I could, I wouldn’t. I actually shed a tear as the credits flashed up on screen, the feeling of shock mixed with relief, my jaw clenched and my fists still tightened. I had so many emotions I honestly could not channel them directly, I bashed out the words onto the document, bought the soundtrack and went for a run so I could release some of the energy built up from Whiplash, the sound of the drums still banging in my head after it ended. Whiplash didn’t need any special effects, complicated story lines or otherworldly ideas to really bring electricity to it’s core, bouncing of the screen onto me like sweat bouncing off a cymbal.
This film was an amazing experience. It ignited the flame in my stomach for my own passion, my own drive, my own dreams, and any film that can do that, in my case without even directly talking about my own passion, is seriously something special. The film and it’s characters were utterly relentless, and worthy of a God damn standing ovation and truly deserving of any awards it receives.
Are you rushing or are you dragging?! Are you rushing or dragging?!
My rating- 10/10