Whiplash is the kind of mind-blowing, though provoking movie I can't believe no one's ever thought to make. Miles Teller plays Andrew, a young drummer trying desperately to be the best in his craft. When Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) sees him practicing, he invites him to join his competitive studio jazz band... and of course Andrew wants to take that next step, so he joins. However, Fletcher's teaching methods are rather... controversial. And Andrew's world goes from exciting opportunity to living nightmare.
The tension Damien Chazelle has managed to create in only his second feature outing, is nothing short of amazing. I can't think of the last time a movie wound me up like this. Perhaps he just got great performances from his stars, but there's something else going on here. Chazelle understands the relationships between people and instruments. He doesn't shy away from giving us just the drum set when it's necessary. He allows us to witness a performance without breaking away to someone's reaction... unless it's J.K. Simmons' because, well, the audience just isn't going to have J.K. Simmons' perspective. It's too crazy. But for a young filmmaker to already know how to trust his audience to formulate their own opinion without needing the forced obligatory crowd reaction takes guts... it takes knowhow. And Damien Chazelle has both of those qualities.
Miles Teller is great as a not necessarily likable character. In many ways he makes himself the victim without needing help from Simmons. But in many ways I feel like that leads back to the greater purpose of the film. J.K. Simmons is electrifying in this movie. I'm just so glad I had a chance to see him give a performance like that, so distant from anything else he's every done, but so well communicated.
Whiplash is extraordinary. The soonest chance you get to see it, DO. If I'm being frank, this movies already in my top ten for the year. I don't care what else comes out. This is in.