There are movies that come along that from the moment you see the trailer you know it is going to be something special whether it be the performances, story or just overall tone. Whiplash has been garnering all sorts of critical acclaim including numerous Oscar nods including best supporting actor for J.K. Simmons. Could this film live up to the hype surrounding it or will it be one of those that just misses the note?
Whiplash follows a promising young drummer who enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. To say this movie lives up to the hype is an understatement. There is so much depth and emotional impact here for such a simple film it is unbelievable. The story is not overly complicated and allows it to focus on the two leads in Miles Teller and J.K.Simmons who both deliver great performances. Teller brings an initial innocence to the character allowing him to showcase a wide variety of emotions early on as his passion is tested by the intensity of it all forcing him to grow as a character as well. While Teller is amazing here, Simmons is literally whirl wind of fury that destroys everything in his path with utter brilliance. He has never disappointed in a role, but here unleashes a performance like you have never seen to perfection. There are simple moments that you think his character is showing a sign of change only to be reminded about his true nature. There is no clichéd moments here where the characters find themselves and live happily ever after, but instead it continues to build the tension between them and everything around them to the point of impact. In the second half of the film you expect a certain direction only to once again be thrust into insanity where both characters potentially find some sort of redemption in the only way they can ever know.
This is one of those movies that deliver the intense impact you hope for in a film that only comes around on those rare occasions. Simmons and Teller are brilliant together, but its Simmons that has proven what anyone with a brain has already seen, that he is one of the most brilliant and powerful actors out there. The impact of their performances are only overshadowed by the ongoing great music that takes on a life of its own with Teller playing most if not all of the drums himself.
Get in his tempo or suffer his wrath when Whiplash hits Blu-ray and DVD on February 24th.