I was a drummer for a while. I started in middle school when I joined band and it seemed like the easiest instrument to start as I was coming into the game late. I’d always had pretty good natural rhythm so why not? I wasn’t the best percussionist, but I was ok and that was good enough for me. Once I moved to High School and started band, I realized how much more seriously some people took it. I was in Drumline for about 2 weeks before I realized I just didn’t care enough. I have a sweatshirt and I went to see that really intense movie about drummers with them in the theater. That was the extent of my experience with people obsessed with being the perfect musicians. After I quit my High School drumming career, I started playing guitar and even played drums occasionally just for fun. Because for me, music was always a passion and never a career. For the main character of WHIPLASH, it’s his everything.
WHIPLASH is a look into the psyche of Andrew (Miles Teller), a first year student at a prestigious music school. He’s obsessed with becoming a professional drummer and in order to do so, he feels he must win the approval of a teacher at the school: Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). The only problem is that Fletcher is impossible to impress. He kicks a student out of the band for being out of tune and forces hours of practice late into the night when he feels like a measure isn’t perfect. But the most confusing times are his moments of humanity. He’s nice to children, tells Andrew he’s there for a reason…and then throws a chair at him. Basically he’s insane. But Andrew is willing to endure all of this because he feels like he needs to do it in order to be successful. His family doesn’t respect him. His girlfriend is holding him back. He isn’t getting what he deserves after all of his hard work. And eventually, he breaks.
What I loved about WHIPLASH both times I watched it, was the uncertainty. The audience (and Andrew) aren’t sure which side of Fletcher they’ll get in any given moment. It’s a little unnerving. He’s a loose cannon. And because Andrew is willing to do pretty much anything to prove his talent, he becomes more and more unstable. This unease is what kept the movie interesting. The constant drum rolls helped too! Overall I loved it. It was intense and engaging. J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller were both fantastic. The film, Director and Simmons were nominated for Golden Globes this year. And when Oscar nominations are released, I’d be shocked if we didn’t see WHIPLASH on the list.
Photo Credit: Sony Classics