Saturday, October 25, 2014

Whiplash

Director: Damien Chazelle
With: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons

Have you ever had an instructor or a mentor or a professor that's so incredibly strict, you're always scared shitless around his or her presence? Whiplash gave me flashbacks of people of this kind mainly because of J.K. Simmons' amazing and unforgettable Terence Fletcher, a terrifying maestro of Andrew, a young jazz drummer played by Miles Teller.

From the first interaction of Simmons and Teller, the intensity never stopped and continuously heightened throughout the film. From Andrew trying to impress the famous school maestro Fletcher, to Fletcher finally noticing Andrew's potential, to Fletcher testing Andrew's limits, to Andrew sacrificing almost everything even his girlfriend to prove Fletcher that he's the one that he's looking for and to the rest of their relationship that went to turmoil. It's very reminiscent of Andi & Miranda Priestly's relationship in The Devil Wears Prada and Nina & his instructor in Black Swan, all are yearning for perfection.

But this one kicked it up a notch. It has humor scattered here and there but for some reason, I still find it scary as hell. Probably the scariest film I've seen this year. No exaggerations, and it's not even a horror or a suspense, Whiplash is music drama for chrissake.

Terence Fletcher, I'm telling you, is more frightening than Annabelle. That sinister doll's ludicrous face has no say compared to J.K. Simmons bald and wrinkled face with kinky bulging nerves on his forehead that seemed like horns will come out any minute every time he scolds at his players. So intense he'll remind you of the people you dread seeing in school, in workshops or wherever. But at the same time, it's difficult to distinguish whether he's a hero or a villain. Definitely a villain but there's something heroic about his intentions and that makes his character even more fascinating. Miles Teller's Andrew is equally brilliant and it's true when people say that this is his best showing to date. From Rabbit Hole, to The Spectacular Now, he's unstoppable and is proving to be one of the best actors of his generation. Interesting how his character is always involve with car crashes though.

The film depicts perfecting one's craft so well but I think the biggest critique people could throw for this film is that it somehow implied that music is about being perfect, about the keys and tempo instead of music being about one's instrument for expressing oneself. But I guess it's okay because it's been established by the two main characters that  it's about exceeding your limit to become one of the greats, and that makes it different from other music dramas. I see it as a film that's not really about music per se, but it's about being successful in one's skill and it just so happened that Andrew wanted to perfect drums, just like Nina wanted to embody the 'Black Swan' and Andi aiming to be Miranda's main assistant.

Whiplash might be one of the most nerve wracking, affecting and tiring movie that I've seen, yet in its last act, specifically how it ended, it literally felt like the whole movie house came of amazement.