‘Whiplash’ Review

By Cassandra Eiler
     Intensity. Blood. Sweat. Tears. Whiplash. These are the five words that I would use to describe this perfectly titled Oscar-nominated film that’s up for Best Picture, Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing along with J.K. Simmons’ nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Throughout Whiplash, and especially afterward as the credits roll, a whiplash sensation takes effect. While watching, I had to sit there, staring at the screen, to take a moment to gather all of the rushing thoughts and emotions overwhelming me.
     I wouldn’t have expected to feel this level of involvement and intensity from a film about a college jazz band, considering I don’t have any personal connection with jazz or band. The beauty and brilliance, though, stems from the universal aspect of the teacher-student bond and the quest for greatness.
Whiplash features J.K. Simmons in the terrifyingly phenomenal role as the jazz band teacher, Terence Fletcher, at Shaffer Conservatory, the best music school in the country. He’s known for his talent as well as his borderline sociopathic intimidation methods that he uses to push his students further than they’ve ever been pushed before. Andrew Neiman, portrayed by Miles Teller, directly experiences this as a first-year music student that Fletcher picks as a drummer for his Studio Band.
From that point on, we witness Andrew’s perfectionist drumming obsession simultaneously grow alongside Fletcher’s fixation with finding his “one” student that will surpass the rest. While the crucial role of the student-teacher relationship is the aspect that connects to the general audience, the specific details of the music are obviously central as well.
What carries and intensifies Whiplash to such an extreme level is the constant pulsing, adrenaline-pumping music. The rhythm of the drumbeat sticks with you through the whole film and has the power to keep playing through your mind even after the credits end. I find it difficult not to tap my fingers to the beat or tense up as the drumsticks fly so fast that they blur on screen as I get wrapped up in the lightning-quick pacing of the movie.
Overall, the film is a wild ride. The music, the plot, the characters, and the emotions are all constantly moving and evolving. There are very few down moments as the action continues twisting tighter and tighter, and just when you think you’ve seen the most surprising moments the film has to offer, the next intense scene springs up to knock you off your feet.
This powerful film definitely earned its spot in all five of its Oscar-nominated categories. With its spectacular acting, penetrating music, and engaging editing effects, Whiplash will give the competition a run for its money.