Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, 2014) Review

With Boyhood out of the way which I was less than won over by unlike everyone else, I present you with another Oscar nominated film (really churning these out). Also seems fitting that I look at a film about drumming since the last film I reviewed that I loved (Birdman) featured a very prominent percussion soundtrack. The two mediums that I look to most prominently are film and video games however the quintessential one I couldn't live without is music. I'm not the most virtuosic person but I can appreciate good music...and a damn good performance so let's look at Whiplash (no relation to Iron Man 2).

Andrew (Miles Teller) is an aspiring drummer who shows great passion and talent on a kit. One evening after school, the head music teacher Terrence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons) catches Andrew playing and soon recruits him to the higher up jazz band in school. Soon, Andrew's life is only focused on one thing: drumming. He has to face adversity to become the next best musician and faces against the threat of other drummers taking his place, mishaps at concerts, his personal life and, most shockingly, Fletcher's brutal and explosive demeanour.

J.K. Simmons owns this film. He delivers the greatest performance I have seen in any 2014 film. You know when you stumble across a fantastic performance when he carries you through the film and holds your attention. Simmons has a wonderful screen presence and I hang onto every word and action he delivers. No fooling, this is his film and he aims to keep it that way. I know that the Oscars are very harsh against actual talent but I will have to become like Fletcher if Simmons is snubbed for best supporting actor. I recognise that a good performance is also made possible by an engaging script (which we have here) and strong director (also in the film) but no one else other than J.K. Simmons could've made this role as strong as he did. Miles Teller also proves his acting chops as he conveys the strong progression of Andrew's character as the film goes on and his drumming talent is just too good to get into words.

While writing out this review, I found myself listening to the score for Whiplash and it hit me just how memorable the songs were. This is clearly a film that makes you retain every instance that occurs. The music is wonderfully composed and the way that all the instruments work together to bring us a treat for the ears is grand. Also commendable is how the film makes use of the music. It's not treated as a background element, if it weren't for Simmons' performance the music would be the movie (sorry, just can't get over how good he was!). I am so glad that it is also up for best sound mixing and best editing because, from a film making view point, the editing and mixing are where the film shines brightest. The climax of the film (which I won't ruin) is beautifully put together from all accounts. The acting is tight, the shots jump from one another in great succession and the music is fit in perfectly.

With my top 10 films of 2014 on the way, I can safely say that Whiplash is the only film to top my beloved Guardians of the Galaxy. Whiplash is nothing short of a masterpiece with its beautiful editing, music, directing, writing and, of course, the phenomenal acting. It's rare that I walk out of a theatre after watching a big Oscar film and instantly want to watch it again (I almost did!). I simply can't recommend Whiplash enough and hope to high heaven that J.K. Simmons walks away from the awards with an Oscar in hand.

A musical masterpiece that is led by J.K Simmons' masterful performance. Accompanied by fantastic editing, writing and, of course, a very strong score.

No comments:

Post a Comment