If you’d like your ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ with a touch less saccharine, and your ‘Full Metal Jacket’ with a slight reduction in cynicism and darkness – Whiplash may be just the tonic for you.
The movie concerns an ambitious young musician, Andrew (Miles Teller) whose enrolment in a prestigious school of music sees his character journey full-circle from bashful ne’er do well, to highly driven drum machine, then to arrogant ingrate and finally back to something that resembles a fully rounded individual – humbled, but retaining his incredible drum talent. His drill-sergeant mentor, played by the brilliant J.K. Simmons, is Teller’s one part nemesis, one part inspiration . His teaching style generally involves much shouting, berating, and belittling through various means. As is his want, this involves casual racism, homophobia and physical violence. In his classes the pupil either sinks into humiliating obscurity, or swims to the pinnacle of success. It’s an old time strength through adversity tale –Andrew is vulnerable and impressionable, whilst J.K. Simmons’ role as Fletcher is menacing and unforgiving, an almighty prick to be honest. The movie is receiving plaudits from all corners. I won’t sing its praises so much. It’s got great pace, or should I say tempo. The performance from the two main protagonists are really good, and the music is truly excellent throughout.
In fact the score may be the true shining star, it pulsates, much like the disgusting squiggly vein that appears on the side of Fletcher’s head. It should be mentioned that the director Damien Chazelle is only the tender age of 29. Kudos to him, but I can’t help feel the back-slapping accumulated was aided in part by having such a young impresario’s name attached to the movie. Bah humbug and all that. 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 out of 5.