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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

FILM REVIEW: WHIPLASH (2014) DIR. DAMIEN CHAZELLE

Image above: An image from Whiplash (Image from official site)

 

Whiplash certainly is an apt name for this furiously fast-paced high-octane tale of obsessive ambition and brutal mentoring in an elite east coast music school. Miles Teller’s portrayal of Andrew, an aspiring drummer, brought to mind Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network. Underneath his seemingly mild-mannered demeanor is a an untapped reservoir of drive and determination which is unleashed by his teacher, Terrence Fletcher, who is both feared and respected by his students. Played by a manic J.K. Simmons as a ruthless disciplinarian who is volatile and abusive. It becomes a battle of wills. The jazzy camera angles and percussive editing intensify the musician’s point of view.

10295546_358851277610135_1883200853806202546_oImage above: A still from Whiplash (Image from official site)

 

This is the second film for the director, Damien Chazelle who also wrote the story. There is a fairly predictable story arc - young student gets accepted to top music school, then gets into the school jazz band under the tutelage of the formidable Terence Fletcher. Unfortunately for him, Fletcher seems only to have eyes for poor Andrew (and not in a good way). He has him in the crosshairs at all times and relentlessly challenges, goads, and abuses him - in the interest of bringing out the “greatness” which Andrew so desperately wants. Fletcher seems to have picked up on Andrew’s deepest need and basic insecurity and now has the ability to manipulate him beyond all reason.

10452844_325201250975138_5288438943024852283_oImage above: A still from Whiplash (Image from official site)

 

As tensions heighten prior to an important competition, it begins to get personal and it becomes a battle of wills. Fletcher is trying to break Andrew and things get pretty ugly. There are also some pretty dicey plot turns which make it too embarassing to reveal how it happens that both of these fiercely competitive combatants duke it out and each one takes a round. In the end they have a final showdown in an unlikely and unexpected place and have one last “go” at each other. You can decide for yourself who was the decisive winner. Or maybe they both won.

10620088_377930029035593_4691094793529633397_oImage above: An image from Whiplash (Image from official site)

 

By Belle McIntyre

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