DIRECTOR: Damien Chazelle
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.
Whiplash 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 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.
Miles 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