Exploring the art of storytelling.
The drum roll opening to “Whiplash” set the pace for the film. We heard the initial tap on the drum, and then the taps getting faster and faster. The sound was coming from protagonist, Andrew, who was sitting in a room at the end of a dark hallway. The camera slowly panned closer and closer to our main character. Right off the bat, my heart was racing.
Going into this film, I was already frighted of the notorious Fletcher, so when he entered in the opening scene, I immediately tensed up. His mannerisms and speech made him intimidating. It’s no surprise that J. K. Simmons won Best Supporting Actor. He brought Fletcher to life. It was evident that Fletcher genuinely believed that what he was doing was right, and that’s what made him extra frightening. He had such a distorted view of reality.
Miles Teller (Andrew) also had an amazing performance. He did all his own stunts. All the drumming was really him. I can’t imagine how much physical toll this role took on his body, but Teller proved that he is one talented man.
For the majority of the film, the audience was up close and personal with Andrew. We were shown shots of his face and the back of his head. The camera occasionally shot from Andrew’s viewpoint, showing us exactly what he was seeing. This allowed us to step into Andrew’s shoes and experience the events of the film from his perspective. This particular filming style brought us closer to Andrew both literally and figuratively. It allowed me to empathize with him more because I saw exactly what he was going through. I sympathized with Andrew, even in extreme cases such as when he continued to perform after getting in a car accident. This was a great artistic choice made by director, Damien Chazelle.
On Andrew’s first date with Nicole, they talked about their college experiences. Both were freshmen. They discussed the homesickness side of college, which usually isn’t represented in films and TV shows. It was a refreshing take and made the characters more realistic. Their conversation was a little bit awkward, but very natural. Both the writing and acting were spot on.
After Andrew was kicked out of school, he gave up on his dream, until the most unlikely person gave him another chance. Fletcher offered Andrew the opportunity to play the drums at the jazz festival… The upsetting part about this was that I understood exactly what Andrew was going through. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place. This was his last chance to be a professional drummer, but he would have to perform with Fletcher. I really felt for him, and was glad it wasn’t a decision I had to make because I honestly wouldn’t know what to choose.
I did not expect Fletcher to turn on Andrew. My jaw dropped when Fletcher announced the name of the song that they would be performing- one Andrew had never learned. I was angry, sad, frustrated. I felt completely betrayed, just like Andrew. And it was painful to watch Andrew struggle through the song. I really tried to like Fletcher and at least understand where he was coming from. But that final scene proved that Fletcher is evil.
“Whiplash” was the perfect title for this film. For one thing, Andrew played a musical piece called “Whiplash.” But taking it a step deeper, watching this film felt like whiplash. It was an adrenaline rush. Fletcher was vicious, and extremely intimidating. And so was the film; it made me anxious. At the very end of “Whiplash,” I finally felt like I could take a breath. At times, it was painful to watch with the constant images of blood, sweat, and tears, but I couldn’t take my eyes from the screen. I am overall impressed with how easily this film took control of my emotions. It’s definitely not a film for everyone, and is exhausting to watch, but it is a cinematic success. You’ve been warned…