Films involving music have always excited me. Musicals, dramas, everything encapsulating the production of the sound and the skill of the player/performer never falls on deaf ears. This film Whiplash, in particular , made my heart pound, my ears ring, my eyes had stars in them…I couldn’t look away.
I had put the film on in the background whilst building IKEA furniture to reduce the tension between me and the reluctant dowels. From the first sound of the drums, I found a 20-minute job of erecting a desk had turned into a two-hour affair as I was stood in the center of the room (nowhere near the desk) fixated on the screen.
We join the protagonist Andrew ( Miles Teller) at a pivotal point in his life where he enrols into a cut-throat music conservatory to be one of the greats amongst a sea of aspiring musicians, in love with music and a promising drummer he awaits the day that Terence Fletcher ( J.K Simmons) gives him the nod to join his elite band.
We feel the amazement, the passion, the pain and the frustration as Andrew begins his journey through an emotionally taxing ordeal to the path of greatness under the guidance of the bullying character of Fletcher. Hard, harsh words, ridicule and outright aggression laced with grooming niceties to massage your ego only to leave you plummeting from the sky the next moment. His only purpose is to both confuse you with where Andrew stands in Fletcher’s good or bad books, constantly.
Andrew is pushed beyond his limits, bouncing back and moving on even at the most difficult of points where he is more like a soldier in hell week rather than a musician. Lacking in support even from his own family, who don’t seem to see music as a worthwhile profession only adds kindling to his fire to excel, really giving a poignant message to creativity, hard work and passion. Music is always put first, even through the rite of passage of dating, is put on the back burner for his true love.
I don’t know about you, but I grew to initially hate the drill sergeant whom in reality we would all avoid, then love the relationship between Andrew and Fletcher. Andrew needed him, as much as he would regret to say it, without him he would never have got to that final part in the last scene, rising to the challenge and emerging like a phoenix into the Jazz world.