Film Reviews

Whiplash (2014)


Starring: Miles Teller, JK Simmons

Director: Damien Chazelle

A small film with a big impact, Whiplash is essentially a two hander between Miles Teller as a drummer who wants to succeed, and JK Simmons, who is a conductor who gives him a chance and pushes him to succeed. It sounds like a movie where an ingenue is taken under the wing and moulded into a star, right? But it’s more in the vein of films like Black Swan or the Red Shoes than 8 Mile or Rocky.

JK Simmons is the conductor from hell, and he’s fascinating to watch. At first he seems warm, perhaps even understanding, but he soon shows that he’s willing to push to get what he wants from his orchestra. In his mind, it’s clear that only perfection will do and that by weeding out weakness in his team, he’s getting them to give their best.

And yet… he pits them against each other, and tries to break individuals. And that’s what makes this film so great. While Tellers drummer is determined to succeed, working until his hands bleed, he can never really impress Simmons band leader. It’s like this guy loves destruction. To him, only those who are pushed and tested and who still continue are worthy, and yet, there is clearly something very wrong with this guy, with his methods and his abuse. Is he making something great out of his members? Or is he jealous and intent on destroying them? The push/pull between the two is really wonderful to watch, as they both spiral out of control in a dark dance of creation, music and destruction.

JK Simmons is seriously intimidating in this film, and his determination pitted against the quite storm that is Teller is so good. How far will they both go? It’s like a dark fairytale, where the good guy doing his best might not be able to succeed and there may be no happy endings. Maybe. No spoilers here.

See It If: a tense drama centering around music and two obsessives put head to head, if you like your drama a bit dark, this is a great film.


15 thoughts on “Whiplash (2014)”

  1. My boy and we’re a family of musicians, so of course my husband and I loved the film. Simmons said in an off-screen interview that he agrees with the (psychotic) character he played, that parents praise and reward far too easily and readily, that we can ask much more of ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly. I think people don’t always get it now. Punishment as a motivator is usually more about the publishers issues with control and ego rather than any genuine desire to teach.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, in agreement. They are superb. This is the first time I saw the young one in any film. Some of his other roles I saw later were whaaaat in comparison. And the older one is… all that you say and all that one wishes. I wish I could get the jazz a bit more for a fuller enjoyment (I’m jazz-illiterate. To me it sounds like nobody should ever be able to repeat these tunes. It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime meal).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is one of those movies that makes you question does the end justify the means. To create a diamond you need to apply pressure but how much pressure should you apply. I was really surprised by this movie and made me question whether JK Simmons was right or wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The fun thing about this film is that whenever I tell people what this movie is about, people just politely smile and avoid it. It’s only when I really convince them how incredibly amazing this movie is that they are willing to try it out and watch it (and ofcourse are blown away by it ๐Ÿ˜‚).
    I loved this film…J.K.Simmons is seriously amazing in his role…and the driving force of it, but Miles Teller is almost just as good. A great and underrated movie, terrific review, and I am glad you put it into the spotlight๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, it’s a bit hard to describe. But it’s wonderful! It did really well over here, which makes me happy. I kind of reached the end and thought JK Simmons character is really misguided, and then I had the thought that some viewers might agree with his methods by the end of the film. I realised, there’s kind of that other layer to this where people are going to have something to talk about after the credits.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Those are usually the best kind of movies that are able to that ๐Ÿ˜Š If there is one thing I like in films, it’s to be able to talk about what’s right and wrong in a movie.
        I saw “It comes at night” yesterday, another movie that managed to do that quite well. Me and the colleague I was with could not stop talking about it way after the end lol. Great stuff, and so it was with Whiplash. Amazing movie indeed๐Ÿ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

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