Jake Yearwood Presents FLASHBACK FRIDAYS. This Week: WHIPLASH
Welcome to hopefully the first of many Flashback Fridays by me, Jake Yearwood. I aim to go back and look at some of the films that haven’t been reviewed by Popcornography, first of which is Whiplash a film that came out in 2014 and was directed by Damien Chazelle.
Whiplash is a story which follows young Andrew Neiman played by Miles Teller on his quest to become one of the greatest Jazz players in the world. On his journey he is soon recruited into a class by Jazz instructor Terrence Flectcher who is played by J.K Simmons.
The two leads both give exceptional performances, starting with Miles Teller, who disappears into the role of aspiring Jazz player, he is asked to illustrate a range of emotion from joy to despair and he does so eloquently. A lot of his feelings are conveyed through facial expressions and body language, more importantly you understand his reasons for wanting to be the best and relate to him indefinitely. More over the presentation given by Simmons is equally electric, he is over the top, in a positive way, electric and terrifying. In every scene you are apprehensive about when not if he is going to outburst into a volcano of destruction. Continuously scrutinising Neiman and their relationship is ultimately what drives the movie. The scenes in which they are rehearsing in preparation for competitions are the most fascinating as they are directed exceptionally, the scenes cut to the beat of the song and leave you not wanting to look away for a moment.
There are a multitude of scenes where Fletcher berates Neiman to be on his tempo, many of his actions are on the verge of assault for example he repeatedly slaps Neiman in front of classmates in order to make a point. He is a hyper realistic version of a teacher/coach that we have all had in real life but as the narrative progresses the character development changes our perspective of him. We understand why he is the way he is and sets up a point of view which is remarkably acceptable despite the actions he undertakes in order to achieve his goals. In contrast you have Neimans viewpoint on how to become the best, they both want the same thing but the way they set out to undertake it differs remarkably.
That’s another key element of the film, the process of telling the story is handled in such a majestic way, the narrative is performed in a show don’t tell manner, the scenery is used to supplement background information surrounding characters and there are scenes which have virtually no dialogue yet you know exactly what is going on. The story constantly builds at a steady pace and culminates in a magnificent ending that I won’t spoil but it definitely has a significant pay off.
If I were to criticise the film slightly the only negative in my opinion is a character choice made about two thirds of the way into the movie, I do believe what happens is plausible but I myself would hesitate if I were in that position, a minor gripe which is more than made up for by the films spectacular ending. I’m not the biggest music fan but it left me with the hairs standing up on the back of my neck, and absolute tribute to filmmaking and one I urge you to go out and see, it’s so relatable on many levels and it is also thought provoking. If nothing else, you’ll come away humming the songs. Thank you for taking the time to read my first review, I hope you enjoyed it.