Why Whiplash is a Masterpiece (a spoiler free review)


I love Whiplash because it told a story that I honestly don’t think has been told before which is very unusual because most Hollywood films of recent years are either remakes, sequels or feel awfully familiar. The unique premise and the incredibly well thought out elements make Whiplash one of my favourite films. 

Whiplash tells the story of an aspiring jazz drummer (Miles Teller) and his experience with his verbally, physically and psychologically abusive teacher (J.K. Simmons). This film shows the pressure of wanting to succeed in a very honest way which makes the film feel relatable even if the situation is extreme. 

In addition, it explores the effects of abuse on the characters. Due to the abuse Andrew (played by Teller) is shown to become obsessed with being the best and sabotages not only his opposition but also his own life and happiness for what the audience can’t tell is his future or to please Fletcher (played by Simmons). The film explores the complexity of human nature and how even if you are aware of someone not treating you right you can still want to be the best you can for them. All of the characters in the film are very human and it’s nice that in such a short amount of time the characters can have realistic faults and strengths. 

The use of the drumming really adds to the theme of pressure in the film as it builds up the tension and drums clearly show the violent nature of the situation. It was a very clever decision for the film to focus on a drummer as the music and the visual together create a fantastic overall experience. Whiplash wouldn’t have been as encapsulating if Andrew (Teller) had played a different instrument or was interested in a different career. 

Not only was the music spectacular the cinematography was wonderfully well chosen. The film uses low lighting such as candles which creates an intimate atmosphere which clearly reflects the intimate and intense relationship between the two main characters. The directing by Damien Chazelle is magical and so well thought out, every choice is just perfect. 

Furthermore, the film wouldn’t be the same without the cast. Teller beautifully crafts the exhaustion of working far too hard with the determination of a young boy who doesn’t want to give up. Andrew is both likeable and unlike able but ultimately you hope this poor boy successeds despite the cruelty he faces. Simmons cleverly plays the abusive Fletcher in a way where he is clearly a horrible person but his conviction in his own rightness and some occasional moments of niceness make you occasional think that you shouldn’t hate him as much as you do, the character is a realistic portrayal of an abuser. 

In conclusion the film is incredibly clever, relatable and goes in unexpected ways that still make perfect sense. Everyone involved is fantastic and worked hard to create a truly magnificent film. It deserves all the accolades it received and to be honest should have received even more. Whiplash is a film that everyone should watch. 

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