Whiplash (2014) -The  Painful Path To Success

DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle

RATING: 3.5/5

You watch the film Whiplash and straight away ask ” What did I witness for one hundred minutes?”

The opening shot you hear Andrew Neimann’s (Tankle) drum solo in a college hall. An observer in Fletcher ( Simmons) listens in and tells Andrew to come to his jazz core to turn pages. Neimann seizes the opportunity wanting to the best jazz drummer, ultimately to be selected for the college jazz core band. The film studies at what cost one wants to follow their ambition, how much do they want to be successful? Will they be pushed and driven to stay focused?

Neimann is a 19 year old freshman and like all 19 year old’s has a naive inexperience of the world. He still lives with his father and his mother is not on the scene. His passion is drumming and despite family saying its a wasted route, Andrew doesn’t listen.

whiplash2Whiplash is an exciting film because of the tension between teacher and student. Fletcher as the jazz conductor is an aggressive person who shouts, throws musical items when mistakes happen and demands absolute perfection. The amount of pressure Andrew goes through to be drummer is a rough road.

Can I ask you what is wrong with stress and tension when you want to work towards your goals? There is no easy road. No success is easy.

Is Fletcher really a villain and antagonist or is he the angel in disguise for Neimann’s own goal? I’ll let you decide that. Watch the film and don’t write off what you see straight away.

There are no two words more harmful in the English language more harmful than  ‘good job’.     Fletcher

The above quote spoken by Fletcher couldn’t be more truer of today’s learning atmosphere.

In New Zealand a teacher marks a student’s work with the following

  • “Achieved”
  • “Achieved with Merit”
  • “Achieved with Excellence”

It might as well read the following:

  • “Fail but I’ll pass you anyway”
  • “You got some of it right, pass”
  • “You passed everything.”

You and me live in a politically correct society where it’s a sin to be real with each other.

Is Fletcher’s method true to make young musicians strive to succeed? You can argue both yes and no. An early scene where Fletcher, Neimann and others at practise shows Fletcher’s style. Neimann doesn’t get the tempo of the jazz number and Fletcher has a go at him. Neimann breaks down provoking Fletcher to give him hell. Neimann repeats out loud to the core “I’m upset” repeatedly while Fletcher strongly suggests “Louder”. It’s an uneasy watch but the point hits home, how much can one endure for success?


Andrew endures not only the talk but his own rehearsals where he plays the drums until his hands bleed on the kit. He’s unrelenting. He’s interested in the local film cashier but is truthful to her about his ambition. He risks it all and you watch the film with an unease because this isn’t “Hollywoodised”, it shows a real experience of a path of pain to get to your goal.

WHIPLASHLASTMiles Tankle, J.K Simmons and Paul Reiser all play their roles well and without Simmons, you wonder would this film be as memorable as it is now. Go watch it and leave your comments below.



Miles Tankle as Andrew Neimann

J.K Simmons as Fletcher

Paul Reiser as Jim Neimann





2 thoughts on “Whiplash (2014) -The  Painful Path To Success

  1. Good point made by this movie. I am a teacher and employment coach. Where I was brought up, we had to strive not for a simple “achieved” on our certificates but to compete with the real smarties who were graded on real merits and marks such as 90%, A+ or scholarships. It was matter of survival of the smartest in a highly populated country or one which had university quotas for a certain segment of the society. The mediocres went for what this trailer refers to as “GJ” or “Good Job” . I vowed never to go for “GJ” which for stood for “Government Jobs” often “safe jobs” where “Achieved” is good enough to take one from start to retirement, where to question another practice called “PC” (Political Correctness”) meant demotion or worse.

    Who are some of the top students or “Duxes” in our NZ schools today? They are not the GJs but mostly of non-NZ ethnicity – let me say it more clearly – Asians and other migrant students. They prefer to go for the IB and Cambridge exams.

    I provide private tuition to many high school students in NZ and all of them are migrant students who are already smart but want to surpass more than “Achieved with Excellence”


    1. You raise good points Adon. You read any business biography and nobody made it to the top easily. The had to push beyond a “good job attitude”, and make success happen. Too many people live in a society where they want a pat on the back for everything.

      The film Whiplash has Fletcher and Neimann go head to head. Both want success and how they want to work towards success is under the microscope.


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