Whiplash: A Homage to the Human Spirit

Movie Review

Andrew Del Rosario, Staff Writer

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Imagine your passion- what you want to do for the rest of your life. Most people come up with an occupation related to forms of entertainment or higher calling: an actor, an astronaut, a surgeon, etc.. Now think about how difficult it is getting into all of these fields. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but unless your lifelong dream is to be a Taco Bell cashier full time, I would venture a guess that the field you chose has some vigorous competition to get into- a sort of prestige that requires one to prove their worthiness  in order to achieve: impacted courses for a future surgeon/lawyer, tens of hundreds of fruitless auditions for actors, all of it saturated with superior minds who are all vying for the same position you’ve dreamt of being since you were young. What the Oscar winning movie “Whiplash” poses to you is possibly one of the simplest yet most pressing questions of all: “How far are you willing to go to reach your goals? How many times will you get chewed up and spit out before you think you can make it? Or will you break and quit under the lights?”

Director Damien Chazelle’s directorial debut film Whiplash (2014) is a perfect depiction of the turbulent path to greatness conveyed through the eyes of Andrew, a talented and ambitious, but yet to be fully realized musician who strives to be one of “The Great” jazz drummers of all time. When a prestigious instructor notices Andrew’s promise- he is admitted into the most elite jazz orchestra in the country at the music school he attends. Subsequently, he is put through the grinder that is the path to success by the instructor who turns out to have a terrifying drill sergeant complex when it comes to his players.

The movie is a journey through Andrew’s personal path to achieve his goals, but has overall themes of broader subjects like the human spirit and endurance under overwhelming adversity. With such a seemingly basic theme, what really separates the movie and makes it the oscar winning movie that it is (as opposed to some mediocre lifetime movie) is the performances by Miles Teller (as Andrew Neiman) and, most importantly, J.K. Simmons (as Terence Fletcher). Teller who is able to show the passion of his character to any (even questionable) extent makes you root for him as the hero, which is where Simmons comes in to amplify the dynamic with such a beautifully horrifying embodiment of everything in the world that chews the passionate up, spits him out, and makes him a better person, a presence that creates such a tension and friction from the first scene that never truly lets up until the movie is over. If I don’t sell it enough, watch the trailer. It is literally the best representation of a movie without actually spoiling any points in the movie that I’ve ever seen done to date- even if you want to just watch and listen to the title card, it gives you an excellent feel for the movie without any words or picture other than the title of the movie Whiplash.

We humans all are in the same boat, we live with purpose, desire, and a drive (hopefully) to fulfill it. Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash”  is 107 minutes of beautiful, intense film that keeps you on edge, and enthralls you until the credits roll that leaves you with all these intense emotions as if you just got off of a rollercoaster and you now have Whiplash. An apt title for an exceptional film that I could not recommend enough. Go out and watch it, I promise you won’t regret it.