Whiplash | Film review – Pupil and teacher in electrifying battle of wills to a steady jazz beat

WHIPLASH Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons

An electrifying battle of wills unfolds as Miles Teller’s ferociously ambitious jazz drummer clashes with J K Simmons’ even more ferociously demanding teacher at an elite New York conservatory in exhilarating rites-of-passage drama Whiplash.

Determined to become one of the greats, Teller’s Andrew pounds the drum skins as if his life depended on it. With Simmons’ chair chucker Fletcher around, it very nearly might. Substitute the terms teacher and pupil for sadist and masochist and you will get an idea of their relationship. This taskmaster wrings blood, sweat and tears from his protégé.

Drawing on his own experiences as an aspiring young musician, writer-director Damien Chazelle conveys the rigours and perils of the pursuit of excellence with sizzling immediacy, his compelling cautionary tale driven by percussive editing and tightly wound performances.

Teller, a smart, sardonic presence in a string of raucous teen comedies (Project X, 21 & Over), is brilliant as the aspiring musician, and so is Oscar-favourite Simmons as his perfectionist mentor, a martinet who makes Full Metal Jacket’s drill sergeant look like a softy.


Certificate 15. Runtime 106 mins. Director Damien Chazelle.


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