Whiplash brings in $11.4 million

Whiplash brings in $11.4 million

Whiplash, written and directed by Damien Chazelle, focuses on drummer Andrew Neimann (Miles Teller), a first-year student at the fictional Shaffer Conservatory music school. He aspires to be one of the greats and admires drummers like Buddy Rich. He also wants the approval of the conductor of the school’s prestigious studio jazz band, Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons).


Fletcher is extremely harsh in his treatment of his students- almost sadistic. At one point, he notices a player is out of tune. He calls out a student, yelling and making fun of his weight, demanding to know why he was unable to tell if he was out of tune. He kicks the student out of the band, watching him cry as he leaves the room. He then tells the class that he wasn’t the one out of tune, but another student.


Fletcher first meets Neimann playing in a practice room, and you can instantly see the connection that will grow. Fletcher leaves after a couple minutes of playing, leaving Neimann thinking that he was unimpressed. However, the next day Fletcher finds him in one of his classes and invites him to be an alternate in his studio band.


By this point, anyone watching the movie has probably already related to and fallen in love with Neimann. He’s a little goofy and awkward, and takes on  a bit of an underdog role, being subject to bitter criticism and rude comments from some of his classmates. I really bought into his determination, and wanted him to be successful.


The relationship between Neiman and Fletcher grows masterfully. I’ve never seen a level of student-has-surpassed-the-teacher quite like the one shown in the movie. J.K. Simmons does a wonderful job of displaying Fletcher as someone who gets carried away with trying to push his students to their limits, and It’s difficult to hate Fletcher for this reason, despite how awfully he treats others.


Most will probably see a teacher of their own in Fletcher- on a less extreme level. On the other hand, maybe some teachers will see a student of their own in Neimann. The chemistry between the two is one of the main reasons why Whiplash is such a great film, and J.K. Simmons’ role earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, a category in which he seems to be the favorite.


Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that there hardly is a dull moment in the hour and 47 minutes spent watching this film. The scenes are intense, well-directed and will grab you and not let go until the mind-blowing end. And right after the finale, you’ll be immediately compelled to look up all the pieces performed by the band in the movie and jam out even more.


Now, I wouldn’t have minded some more detail and development on other aspects of Neimann’s life. Some things were introduced, like his love interest (Melissa Benoist) and a troubled home life, but not expanded upon as much as I would have liked. However, I could see subplots such as those to be distracting and breaking away from the intensity of the main story, so I’m okay with they were handled.


Overall, you can’t go wrong with this movie. If you’re in orchestra, band or choir, or simply are a music lover, it’s a must-watch. You will undoubtedly love it. But even if you aren’t interested in the music that the movie is oriented around, Whiplash is still worth a watch. Everyone has had something that they wanted so bad they would do anything to have it. Because of this, you can relate to Neimann on a deeply personal level no matter what that passion is for you.


Whiplash has generated five Oscar nominations- including Best Picture. While it may not be able to compete with some of the heavyweights in the Best Picture category, it’s definitely one of my top movies of the year.