Whiplash - the movie

posted Mar 20, 2015, 6:57 AM by Bruce Gaughran   [ updated Jun 7, 2015, 12:32 PM ]
Wednesday, I saw "Whiplash". I found it to be one of those movies that is hard to get out of your mind. The movie is written and directed by Damien Chazelle based on his experiences in the Princeton High School Studio Band. It stars Miles Teller and J. K. Simmons. Simmons won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and I can understand why.  The movie is very intense from start to finish. The screenwriting was very well done. Unfortunately, there is a lot of ugly language, but for once, and I don't say this often, it helped validate the characters.

I felt Whiplash kept the 'peddle to the metal' (and never slowed down). By the time the movie ended, I needed to take a few deep breaths of air.

As a writer, I often find myself judging movies on character development as well as the twists and turns of events including how well they are set up. This film did a great job of pulling and pushing the viewer along - providing moments of shock and characters that you love and love to hate. And let me be clear, it is not a feel good movie.

Spoiler Alert - Simmons, as the abusive band instructor, forced you to judge and eventually hate him. He then provided brief moments of humanity where you 'almost understood' and 'almost pardoned' him for his actions (almost). Each time you began to soften your feelings, he would rip your feet out from underneath you. Now you hated him even more. This is a major reason why I liked the movie so well. I was being wonderfully manipulated - always trying to find the good or at least some good in the band instructor. Whiplash's ability to manipulate reminded me of some good books that I have read through the years including "Silence of the Lambs" and "Ender's Game". Just when you believe you have things figured out, a new twist or turn has you scrambling again.

In the end I am pleased I saw it, but I just wish I could get Simmons' character out of my mind.

Photo: Theatrical release poster