‘Whiplash’ Review: Starring Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons & Melissa Benoist

Posted in Film, Reviews by - October 16, 2014
‘Whiplash’ Review: Starring Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons & Melissa Benoist

“That’s not quite my tempo.” -Terence Fletcher

Stress-inducing, disturbing, horrifying, explosive, shocking and entertaining all at the same time, director and writer Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash is one of the best films of the year. It’s performance driven, intense and serves as a showcase for both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.

Andrew (Miles Teller) is a 19-year-old promising drummer at the best music conservatory in the country. He is passionate about playing the drums and aspires to be one of the greats. It’s his first year at the conservatory and one night while he is up late practicing, headstrong musical instructor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) hears him play. Fletcher, known for his teaching talents as well as his terrorizing methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school and picks Andrew to come in and sit as the second drummer. From that moment on, Fletcher stops at nothing to push the young musician, testing both his talents and sanity.

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Though my personal favorite performance of Miles Teller is in James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now, Teller is absolutely exceptional here as the talented drummer Andrew. Teller already knew how to play the drums well before production began on Whiplash, but the 27-year-old actor practiced for hours every day to fit the part. Teller completely transforms into the young music prodigy and between the scenes where he is pounding away at the drums in order to achieve perfection and arguing with Simmons on technique, Teller is deserving of an Oscar nomination. If the race for Best Actor wasn’t so crowded this year I would say he is certain of earning a nom.

J.K. Simmons, in a role that we’ve never seen him in before, is crazy good as the maniacal conductor Fletcher. Watching him on screen is a comparable experience to waiting for the shark from Jaws to emerge from the water. You never knew if Simmons was going to give someone a pat on the back or slap someone upside the head and start cursing. He gives not only one of the best supporting performances of the year, but one of the best in general and certainly a role he will be remembered for. Simmons and Teller have remarkable chemistry as teacher and student, mentor and child and at times even father and son.

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Whiplash succeeds in making audiences care about our main characters and holds us on the edge of our seats as the story moves forward. Just when you think the unpredictability of the movie is over, it’s starts right back up again shocking us to the core.

Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons give two of the best performances of the year while filmmaker Damien Chazelle is one to watch on rising stars. 

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