Stop reading this. Stop right now. Go and watch Whiplash. I’ve said enough, this is the end of the review. No, I’m just joking, of course this can’t be the end, so read on knowing that I will praise this masterpiece.
The film, written and directed by Damien Chazelle, began its life as a short film submitted to Sundance festival. When sufficient funding (when is it ever sufficient?) was raised, the film got shot in only 19 days (per IMDB) and went on to win three Oscars and 47 well deserved awards for’ performance.
The story follows a young, ambitious drummer, Andrew Neiman, a first-year student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York. Given a chance to play in the class of Terence Fletcher, Andrew gives his all: blood, sweat and tears, to please the rigorous criteria of his instructor.
Fletcher, a manipulator and an emotional sadist (‘’There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job’”) pushes Andrew, and all of his other students, to their limits, until he is taken off the job when one of them commits suicide due to depression and mental exhaustion. Although it may seem like nothing much happens in the film, its each and every scene is filled with such conflict and tension that you can’t stop watching it, and your heart begins to race with the speeding beat of the Andrew’s drums.
A strong point of identification with the plot story and the characters is Andrew’s ambition and fear of the oblivion, so close to every student of any art. ‘’I’d rather die drunk, broke at 34 and have people at a dinner table talk about me than live to be rich and sober at 90 and nobody remembered who I was.’’, says Andrew. It’s what we all think at some point. And this is what most of us have to overcome once we are hit with reality of our situation, our talent, and the world we live in.
Andrew and Fletcher meet again. Fletcher invites Andrew to be a part of his bend in the upcoming competition where only a phone call of the right people in the crowd can make a star out of you or ruin your career forever. Andrew, hungry for success and recognition from his tutor, accepts, only to discover he’s been set up for failure, not being prepared for the new opening composition.
So what does he do? He goes all in. Fails the opening and wins with a solo, shutting his tutor’s mouth and career for good.