Dir: Damien Chizelle
Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons
Released: 16th January
It’s not often that films are made about Jazz music let alone focusing on Jazz drumming. That is only a drop in the ocean of what makes Damien Chizelle’s debut feature ‘Whiplash’ such a breath of fresh air.
As a feature, the film is shot beautifully and simply. The use of close-ups brings the audience almost into the characters heads as we are constantly seeing faces in close shots. The editing is so sharp that it bring a sense of anticipation, quick cuts that show off the eye for detail that Chizelle has and the power of excellent editing. Anticipation is what drives this movie, even in silence the hearts of the audience were beating loud, ears drumming a double-swing.
The performances are electric. It is known that Miles Teller learnt how to play Jazz drums for this movie and the dedication and drive is there on the screen. Teller (Divergent, The Spectacular Now) plays the ingénue to J.K. Simmons (Young Adult, Terminator Genisys) mentorship. This dynamic and chemistry is what makes this film so strong. Simmons, in possibly his best role, showcases the layers of a sadistic, gargoyle of a man.
Chizelle’s script is a contender for one of the best in 2014, the dialogue is crisp like a hi-hat. The characters are unforgiving when they should be and the words pack a punch like a kick-drum. Terence Fletcher (Simmons) is abusive to the point of almost comedy, the words so crude that they hit like punchlines.
On the poster Whiplash is described as “Exhilarating”, “Astounding” and “Electrifying”. This is the debut that filmmakers dream to make their first time around. If this is the first takes of what Chizelle has to offer, I can’t wait for what’s to come.