Whiplash is intensely good, and about as far from formulaic and predictable as you can get from a movie these days. With any luck (and word of mouth), it will cross over from ‘indie’ and ‘arty’ to mainstream in a Juno sort of way, thanks in large part to the performance of the guy who played the dad in Juno – J.K. Simmons. Even if his name escapes you, his face and voice will surely ring a bell. He’s that character actor you’ve seen so many times in the movies and on TV – in The Closer, Spiderman, and those commercials for Farmer’s Insurance.
In Whiplash, Simmons plays Mr. Fletcher, a music instructor at a cutthroat music conservatory who will stop at nothing to realize his students’ potential for greatness. Miles Teller (Divergent, The Spectacular Now) plays Andrew, a promising young drummer obsessed with doing whatever it takes to become the next Buddy Rich. He hopes to do so under the psychotic tutelage of Mr. Fletcher. Let’s just say – this aint no Mr. Holland’s Opus. Whiplash is dark and twisted and entertaining, with a drum solo near the end that will stick with you long after you leave the theater, even if you didn’t know (or think) you were a fan of jazz drumming.
The film has a rhythm that seeks to leave the audience feeling bruised and battered – and cinematically satisfied. And it works – even for someone like me who generally marches to the beat of a much more mainstream-minded drum. Watch- and listen- for it come Awards time.