Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Whiplash (2014)

Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer:    Damien Chazelle
Cast:       Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist

A promising young drummer (Miles Teller) enrolls at a cutthroat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor (J.K. Simmons) who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential.

I am not really an expert on music and I don't even have the ability to differentiate between the sounds from different  instruments when I am listening to music (Drums are easy to I guess). But you don't have to be a music connoisseur to enjoy Whiplash. It is something that can be set in a very different background like competitive sports to the same effect. At the center of it are two characters whom could be seen as despicable from outside and on whose mentor-protege relationship the entire film is based. All other characters, like the father and girlfriend, are secondary and they are there to drive home the single mindedness of these two characters. All of us have had a hard task master kind of teacher at some point in our life and J.K. Simmons' character is an unapologetic one in this film. Michael Teller plays the role of narcissistic young drummer with great smugness and I was reminded of Fincher's 'Social Network' when it comes to the overall tone of the film. Film is kind of predictable in terms of the basic plot points but it gets to these points with surprising freshness. The 'No shit!' ending of the film drives home the point with no time given for you to catch your breath. Both the leads are excellent and convincing in their roles and most of the other actors used are real life musicians or music students.

The script for the film was included in the 2012 'Black List', which has turned out to be a good method to ensure that films get made. Miles Teller has been training as a drummer since he was 15 and took additional training for the film since it involved unconventional Jazz drumming. It was shot in 19 days. Overall  it is a great watch and one of the best from 2014.

Rating: 4.5/5