I broke my number one rule going into ‘Whiplash’, I let myself believe the hype surrounding the film, I went in expecting a masterpiece which is a death sentence for any film.
My biggest problem with ‘Whiplash’ is the seemingly needless introduction of a potential love interest for Miles Teller’s character, Andrew. I understand she was placed in the film to emphasise how much Andrew’s obsession was taking over his life, but i would have much rather taken the admittedly small screen time they shared and instead spent more time focusing on his family that obviously had no respect or appreciation for what he was doing, which to me made for a much more interesting and compelling dynamic.
The inclusion of Nicole, the love interest, also caused some slight pacing issues with the film as it would slow down to have Andrew pause to think about Nicole, or even go on a date with her, whereas Andrew’s time with his family felt like it was moving too swiftly which gave the film an uneven feel when not dealing with Andrew performing.
All the performances were great, however J.K. Simmons absolutely blew it out of the park, he was an absolute powerhouse as the meticulously obsessive conductor and really drove the film and had a powerful presence felt throughout the film which as well as being a testament to Simmons’ charisma is also due to Miles Teller giving another fantastic performance. Teller brought a lot of much needed passion to the film and you could feel his frustration grow, his hatred deepen and his pain expand purely through his facial expressions and body language when he was playing the drums.
The directing at first felt very standard, by the numbers and effective yet lacking, with the occasional great shot. However in the final scene the cinematography, camera positions and layout were just perfect, imaginative and extremely effective, that final scene was the culmination of 90 minutes of pulsing build up and it was perfectly executed, when it cut to black, my heart was racing and i was breathless. The final scene was absolutely exhilarating and is reason enough alone to watch the film.
The film felt extremely natural from the way the soundtrack was used to the often inventive cinematography, even down to the extremely real and visceral performances by J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller, the film was crafted like a perfect piece of music, however there was the occasional flat note in the film which held it back from being perfect but that does not negate the fact that this is a powerful and thrilling film.