Whiplash (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Whiplash (2014) Directed by Damien Chazelle. With Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons and Melissa Benoist.


Whiplash‘ is the name of a piece of music which is central to writer-director Damien Chazelle’s film of the same name, but it might also be a physical symptom of spending 107-minutes in the company of J.K. Simmons, who plays the role of a tutor/mentor to Miles Teller’s Andrew, a talented young jazz percussionist who dreams of greatness.

In a role that won him an Oscar, Simmons is like the personification of a hurricane, embodying a degree of ferocity that is seldom seen. Between himself and Teller, it becomes a battle of wills, as in how far will one push the other, before there is some kind of implosion. It quite literally is blood, sweat and tears, for much of the duration, as the violently clashing forces of Teller and Simmons’ performance’s reach an excellence that their on-screen characters strive for.

Director, Damien Chazelle, claims to have drawn on his own life experiences, for much of what we see. Like any songwriter expresses the trials of life, by channelling them through music, Chazelle straddles music and film, in order to tell his story in a way that must have been a combination of therapeutic, exhilarating and painful – to see it blossoming back to life through these two violent and intense portrayals.

Of course, music being the central heartbeat of the film, particularly the sound of the drums, the film is potent and alive. Despite the hotheadedness that pervades throughout, the film does switch gears, displaying touching moments of poise, although you’re never quite certain whether it’s getting you to lower your guard so it can hit you square between the eyes with another 100mph outburst.

In short, contrary to what J.K. Simmons’ tyrannical and altogether unforgettable character would have you believe, Whiplash never misses a beat. It’s written, directed and acted with such sure conviction that it will leave you both energised and drained in the space of a few breaths. 5/5


About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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21 Responses to Whiplash (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Martin Richmond says:

    This movie was utterly terrific, terrifying and thrilling in equal measure and tremendously uplifting too, that ending gives me chills every time! Great review Gareth!

  2. One of my favourite movies in fact 🙂

  3. first saw this just over a year ago now and I still can’t get over how intense it is, loved every single second of this incredible film and they deserved every award they got. great review and I can’t wait to watch this film again.

  4. indiefan20 says:

    J.K. Simmons was priceless. “Why did I throw a fucking chair at your fucking head?” Worst. music. teacher. ever. Though to be fair, the kid was kind of a chode too. I’ve always liked J.K. Simmons, even before this movie. “Whiplash” might have been the one that won him an Oscar, but he has always been a good and unappreciated actor.

  5. great review, Gareth! I loved this film. that climactic scene.. just nuts. breathtaking, really.

  6. Dan O. says:

    Good review Gareth. The movie has a lot to say about perfectionism. However, also features great performances.

  7. brettmkane says:

    This film manages to be just as intense, if not more so, than any other thriller without having to fire a single bullet. Every scene and every line has importance. This was my favorite film of 2014, and I believe it’s one of the best to come out of the last decade. Excellent review!

  8. Chris Evans says:

    I think you summed this up better than anyone could Gareth, Whiplash certainly never misses a beat. Intense and great performances from Simmons and Teller.

    • garethrhodes says:

      That’s very kind of you, Chris. I appreciate the support. I’m also looking forward to what Damien Chazelle does next.

      By the way, do you have any idea what happened to Tim (filmfunkel)?…I miss his posts.

      • Chris Evans says:

        I’m not sure mate, I was only recently thinking myself that he hadn’t posted in a while. Maybe he’s taken a break, I’ve been a bit lax myself of late but hope to pick things back up again in the coming weeks…

  9. Chris says:

    I was also blown away by Whiplash, very quotable and with powerful perfomances. I liked the film examines the line between education and maltreatment. Although I did feel uncomfortable about the last act which could be read as an endorsement of abuse.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I understand, but I didn’t think it played that way. It was more that Andrew was sticking it to Fletcher – one-upping him by being brilliant. We’re told there’s people in the audience who can “make or break you” – we imagine that as a result of such a blistering (literally) display, the world of music would open up to Andrew, and he’d be able to leave Flecther in the dust. That’s how I chose to read it.

  10. Just simply put.. a fantastic film. We forget sometimes how good a movie can truly be..and then one like this comes along and just WOWS! us all over again. I’m actually looking forward to my screening of 10 Cloverfield Lane next week because Damian Chazelle is a co-writer on it!! 😀

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