LFF 2014 Review of WHIPLASH

Title: Whiplash
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer(s): Damien Chazelle (screenplay)
Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang
UK Release Date: 16th January 2015
Genre: Drama, Music
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Plot Synopsis: Andrew Neyman is a 19 year old ambitious and headstrong drummer who wants to be the best there is. No exceptions. Absolute number one. By enlisting at one of the best music schools in the country, he may be on his way to achieving that success. But did he ever imagine he’ll be embarking on a head on collision with a no nonsense and no holds barred music teacher from hell!?
Review: Have you ever wanted to experience such a ferocious and exhilarating beast of a film to give you such an adrenaline rush, one that will make you sweat while still seated, your heart beat twice as fast, and your eyes near enough popping out of their sockets just from watching it? If the answer is yes to all of the above, then congratulations, you have found the right film.
My second film viewing at this year’s London Film Festival, it is also by far, the most mind-blowing film I’ve seen all year. I wish I could tell you all the best bits and go full on into detail what scenes made me laugh, made me gasp, sent my heart and pulse racing, and other scenes that just generally gob-smacked me right in the face. But of course I won’t, as that would be spoiling, and film spoilers are very naughty. What I can say, however, is that this was a truly unforgettable cinematic experience, a rare, unique movie, still imprinted on my brain after only ever seeing it that one time; which is of course no small feat. Receiving the biggest audience applause I’ve ever been witness to when the end credits started rolling, surely made it a pure testament to how genuinely crowd pleasing an indie film can actually be.
The two leading performances from both Teller and Simmons were the absolute revelations here, equally proving they have the serious acting chops to help elevate the movie to a high, jaw dropping masterpiece status. Seriously, if they don’t each win an Oscar for all the hard work, and sweat, blood, and tears they fully injected into their roles on display here; then they should at least both receive nominations. And if the ceremony does neither, on behalf of their impressive, hard work; then the Oscars is officially dead to me.

A film set within the world of music like this one, is not normally a film I would gush over and hold in such high praise. But maybe that’s because this is a whole different kind of movie; one you definitely wouldn’t expect and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before it.

Having won both the Grand Jury prize and the Audience Award at last year’s Sundance film festival, proves that this film was no fluke, and the massive hype surrounding it, is totally honest, completely genuine and the kind of hype you better believe. This being the second movie from 29 year old director, Damien Chazelle, I actually knew nothing about him until I happened to come across Whiplash once it premiered at Sundance. And you know what? I had to really admire the fact that Chazelle was also a drummer in his past, endlessly practising on his own, and playing for a conductor during band rehearsals whom constantly scared the living shit out of him. So ultimately, this is a film that is every bit of a personal story for him, as it is an unforgettably shocking and engrossing piece of storytelling for us as movie goers. It helps to draw from one’s own life experiences, to really get the point across to audiences of how a simple idea can become a great, mentally everlasting one, if done in the right way that grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go, right until the very end climax.

Martin

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