Tuesday, 11 April 2017

''Whiplash'' (2014 film)- Review

Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Released: 2014
Country: United States

Genre: Drama

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


When I was twelve, I enrolled in violin classes. As soon as the classes started I realized that a musical instrument was not for me. I could not manage the pressure and although the teacher was kind and understanding, I found it way too stressful. In the end, the little passion for playing a musical instrument that I had disappeared, and I ended up quitting it after a grueling year of trying to learn an instrument and failing at it. 

Well, my passion for an instrument was nothing- absolutely nothing- next to the intense passion that the protagonist of ''Whiplash'' has for jazz. And my teacher was very, very kind, unlike the teacher/conductor in ''Whiplash''. In addition, the pressure that I faced trying to learn to play the violin is nothing next to the pressure that Andrew, our protagonist, feels. My point is, I was awed by the protagonist because of the extreme passion that he has for jazz. I was fascinated by the things he is ready to do to succeed in jazz, be it breaking up with a girl he really likes, or facing the terrible insults by the strict- strict is rather a mild word in this case- conductor. The conductor, Terence Fletcher, is the character that really shook me to the core, because of the way he treats his students, because of his extremely perfectionist method. 

Our protagonist, Andrew Neiman, played by Miles Teller, is enthusiastic about jazz and plays drums. He studies at the Shaffer Conservatory, and when he is spotted by the well-known conductor (who works in the conservatory) Terence Fletcher, played by J. K. Simmons, and Fletcher invites him in his own studio band. Fletcher is a perfectionist and he is ready to do anything to bring out the best performance from his students- be it insulting them, slapping them, or throwing chairs at them. His grueling methods are at times way too cruel- indeed, the students have great passion for jazz, as we see them tolerating this kind of treatment from Fletcher. Andrew is soft-spoken and introverted, and Fletcher's methods are really very pressurizing for him. However, his passion for jazz inspires him to keep practicing harder and prove himself; he dreams to be one of the great jazz musicians, and for doing that, he is ready to do anything, even if it is to face the insults from Fletcher day after day. 

''Whiplash'' remains memorable because we can really relate to it. There have been times when I guess all of us have been in Andrew's situation. We have been passionate to achieve something and that passion and ambition inspired us to do anything to achieve it. And there have been times when we have met people like Terence Fletcher: the kind of people who want you to succeed but can do anything to make sure that what you do is perfect. The kind of people who are intimidating and scary and at times you hate, hate, hate them but at the end of the day, if you can endure their treatment, you can succeed in what you wish to succeed in. My second grade teacher once told us about one of her teachers. When she (my second grade teacher) was in school, she was careless about her handwriting, in spite of the fact that she was a very good student. A teacher of hers scolded her, gave her detentions, and my teacher hated that teacher of hers. But, eventually, within a few weeks, her teacher was able to do something that my teacher had never dreamed of: my teacher now had a beautiful handwriting, and won a prize in a handwriting competition that same year. These teachers are quite like Fletcher- although I think very few people can be as intimidating and as perfectionist as Fletcher is.

There is also another scene that I thought was extremely relatable. There is scene set during dinner, and the people present in the scene are Andrew, his father, a few family friends and their children. The family friends were glorifying the achievements of their own children while not paying much attention to Andrew and his own achievements. This really pained me and I think everyone can relate to it: everybody has had the experience of being slighted and ignored.

Damien Chazelle's next film- after ''Whiplash''- was ''La La Land''. Both films deal with the necessity of following your dreams, your passion. Although the two films dealt with two different situations, they definitely do not belong to the same genre, but both films deal with dreams. ''La La Land'' is more about how to keep chasing your dreams without being intimidated by the competitive world, and ''Whiplash'' is more about the extent to which people can go to achieve their dreams, and the role of perfectionists like Fletcher.

There were times in which I really hated Fletcher. There were times in which- I don't know how to put it- I became Andrew, if you know what I mean. There were times I felt Fletcher was misbehaving with me, because I felt deeply for Andrew. But here is the point: Fletcher wants his students to be the best. Could he be successful in his mission if he were slightly less strict? Well, I think for his goal strictness is absolutely necessary and there is a line he says with which I absolutely agree: ''There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job.'' Perhaps the words ''good job'' would lessen the drive in his student to be better, to be perfect. I agree, definitely agree with it. In that sense, I appreciate his character, but I guess he could have slightly milder.

''Whiplash'' is a very realistic film in the sense that we can relate to it. Miles Teller and J. K. Simmons both give excellent performances, and the film is very relatable, intense and moving.


1 comment:

  1. Great comparison between this and La La Land. I must say I liked this one a lot better. Thanks for including a bit of yourself in the review. I really find those tidbits about what the reviewer brings into the film.