Whiplash Review- Passion Or Obsession?

December 27, 2023
Whiplash- Miles Teller and J.K Simmons

Movie: Whiplash

Director: Damien Chazelle

Screen time: 107 mins

Release date: January 16, 2014

Maturing rating: 17+

As we near the 10th anniversary of the critically acclaimed drama “Whiplash”, what better way to celebrate it than reliving this masterpiece through a review of a movie almost a decade after its release? After all, Whiplash is a movie that has remained and will remain relevant through the times. 

Whiplash is an indie movie that follows the “obsessed artist” theme, it is the journey of tirelessly striving for perfection. How lost someone can get in trying to pursue their dream leaving little to no room for other affairs of life. Watching this movie brought up many complex emotions in me, inspired by the passion on screen but also left me utterly disoriented over how easy it seems to get completely consumed by something.

About The Director

Damien Chazelle is a renowned director, mostly known for Whiplash (2014) and La la Land (2016). He is both the director and writer behind this piece of cinema which has won 3 Oscar Awards. Although Whiplash is not based on a true story, it is inspired by Chazelle’s experience as a jazz drummer in high school and college. 

Complementing the story’s intensity, Whiplash was shot in only 19 days with a shooting time of 14 hours per day. Moreover, Chazelle got into a serious accident during the third week of filming. He was hospitalized with potential concussions but he returned to shooting the very next day (even more on brand with the plot). 

Whiplash Review-

The Plot

The story follows Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) who is an aspiring jazz drummer and like every other young ambitious artist wants to make it big. 

Andrew later on runs into Terence Fletcher (J.K Simmons) or rather Fletcher discovers Andrew. Fletcher is a well-known famous/infamous instructor, he introduces Andrew to the top jazz ensemble and also to the world of passion bringing forth very harsh and intense situations for Andrew. 

Cinematography

Whiplash’s cinematography was done by Sharone Meir and is simple yet brilliantly gets the message across. There are a few anticipated dolly shots in the movie however the emotions throughout the movie were portrayed with the help of lighting.

Simply through lighting emotions were conveyed. Most noticeable is the use of yellow-orange lights when there’s an interaction between Andrew and Fletcher. Although usually these are considered warm homey tones, in the case of whiplash these are used in intense context and the orange tone is amplified when Andrew performs on stage.

Fletcher

Terence Fletcher is the most complex and interesting character I have come across. Some view him as an egomaniac, and others see him as a man of passion. For me, Fletcher was a man obsessed with perfection where he used his authority till the point of abuse. He used dangerous tactics and just pure abuse till he drove his students to perfection.

Fletcher- J.K Simmons

J.K Simmons as Fletcher

During the movie Fletcher quotes “There are no two words in the dictionary more harmful than ‘good job'”, and at the end of the movie we see him say the exact words to Andrew ‘good job’. This I believe explains Fletcher’s character in the best way, he manipulated Andrew to seek his approval until Andrew achieved perfection

Message

The message of Whiplash is a question, the whole story revolves around striving for perfection and running after your passion but in the midst of it all Andrew puts a halt to everything else going on in his life. Getting blinded to achieve no room for error is not portrayed in a positive light. So does the film tell you to only focus on your goal or is it a caution against that? everyone can decide that for themselves, but for me the movie is an inspiration to always strive for better.

Summary 

Whiplash has a unique storyline, and the powerful story is aided by strong acting performances and direction. 

I would recommend it to everyone because this intense movie awakens various emotions in you, in less than two hours you can feel disappointment, frustration, and satisfaction through the screen. 

However, some scenes can be distressing for viewers. Fletcher’s meltdowns are not suited for anyone sensitive. Whiplash is the true essence that makes you realize you need to give blood, sweat, and tears to achieve greatness. 

Miles Teller- Whiplash

Rating: 9/10

Pros:

  • Timeless
  • Intense immersive plot
  • Inspiring

Cons:

  • Strong language  
  • Psychologically distressing

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