Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Whiplash (5/5, Very Good)

A movie which increases tension such as a drumming that goes stronger and powerful without dismissing its brutality and also its beauty. A must-see.
Andrew (Miles Teller) is a young wannabe jazz-legend who's trying to prove himself in a competitive music school. His dedication and passion is rewarded when music teacher Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) asks him to join a Jazz band with other students. However Fletcher's method to push his students to perfection is through verbal intimidation, violence and humiliation. Decided to struggle and prove his worth to the tyrannical Fletcher, Andrew's life will face vertigo and the fury of drums will take possession of his humanity to make him become either a 'no one', either a legend.

(Click here for some crazy jazz!)

Second film for young director Damien Chazelle and this one gives a sense of freshness and originality. How many films took the challenge of telling a musician's humanity degradation along with a characterization of the instrument that finally possesses him? How many films were based on drummers? Hard to count. Therefore the story (nominated for the Oscars 2015 as Best Adapted Screenplay) is a great achievement: not only it squashes the classic cheesy relationship of "Mentor-Student" but it adds a Full Metal Jacket style through the personification of Simmons as a cruel perfectionist. This seek for perfection degrades not only the student but also its mentor. Should we loose ourselves in the instrument in order to seek perfection? Should we become 'them'? 

 Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are astonishing in this film. The first has progressed enormously since his acclaimed acting in The Spectacular Now (2013) and J.K. Simmons proved us that he can take a film up on his shoulders. His acting has been worth a nomination for the Oscars 2015. The editing of the film is marvelous: drum solos are not here to entertain our ears but also to push the drama forward. Shots are carefully composed so that we feel the aggressive beat and let it takes us to a certain type of madness. Of course, there's a great care in the soundtrack: drums are prevalent and show how important they are in music, especially with jazz. Tune it, it's worth it. 

Be prepared to be taken by the madness of drums and the savage side of each of us. This film is about that. It's about loosing track of our ourselves and to recover. It is about making a mess with everything. It is about loosing control: this is a drummer's story.


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