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Directed by Damien Chazelle

Year Of Release

Damien Chazelle

Damien Chazelle

Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Fletcher, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell

Whiplash is an intense and engrossing story of determination, sacrifice and madness. After Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the terrifying and imposing music teacher first appears, I was just waiting for him to go off the handle again. He was like a coiled spring throughout the film, as he embarked on his campaign of mind games and abuse against his pupils.

One such pupil Andrew Neiman, a first-year jazz drummer at the prestigious Shaffer music school, catches the attention of the unstable music teacher, and is taken under is wing and given a chance to prove himself. Nieman is the odd one out in his family, with parents obviously favoring his football playing brothers. And you get the feeling that his fathers support his career choice is not entirely wholehearted. He is a times motivated, and at times pushed over the edge by his teachers antics (the hilarious "not quite my tempo" scene for example). This is what creates the intensity and tension: the question of whether Neiman is in Fletcher's good books or not. Nieman's character develops from a nervous, unsure first year student, into a driven, talented musician who knows what he wants to do. He has a few ups and downs with his nutcase teacher along the way, but in the end his tutelage, however unorthodox, proves worthwhile.

The final scene is amazing. After his teacher's failed attempt to humiliate in front of hundreds of people, Nieman sits down a plays the solo to beat all solos. Seeing that his investment in the young man is coming to fruition, Fletcher eventually aids Nieman in his solo efforts. And his father finally realizes is son's true talent as he stares in awe at the stage through an auditorium door.

Whiplash is a brilliant, well-made drama with superb performances throughout. One of the best films of 2014.