Whiplash owes its success to J.K. Simmons’ performance

Originally conceived as a short film which premiered at 2013’s Sundance Film Festival, Whiplash is an exhilarating drama depicting 19-year-old Andrew Neimann’s passionate aspiration to become one of the world’s greatest drummers. After he is offered a position as drummer with conductor, Terrance Fletcher’s, acclaimed jazz band, Neimann soon realises that his new mentor is not the inspirational hero he was expecting. Fletcher uses oppressive techniques as a conductor, abusing and intimidating his band members and forcing Neimann to play drums every waking hour to a torturous extent. Neimann consistently pushes himself to the brink of self-destruction in the hopes of maintaining his prestigious position as drummer with Fletcher’s band.

Whiplash-ScreamImmersed in melodic jazz tunes and instrumentals, Damien Chanzelle directs a thrilling motion picture which will have its audience gripped throughout. Tensions are portrayed seamlessly within Whiplash which makes for an evocative and sometimes frustrating filmic experience, especially in regards to Terrance Fletcher. The film relies heavily upon the talents of Miles Teller and J.K Simmons, in the lead roles. Teller’s dedication to his role results in a gripping performance, particularly during an extensive drum solo at the films climax, while J.K Simmons manages to establish himself as a credible leading man in his first major role.

In fact it is J.K Simmons performance as Terrance Fletcher where the film owes its success. Simmons’ characterisation of the cold and unpredictable conductor is masterful. The audience immediately dislike Fletcher due to his unpredictability and erratic behaviour. After a brief introduction between Fletcher and Neimann, we soon witness Neimann’s first chance of performing for Fletchers jazz band. Simmons switches from a conductor to a force of evil as he hurls a chair in Neimann’s direction. It is such moments in this film where the audience are taken on a journey ridden with surprises and dark turns.

Clocking in at 104 minutes, Whiplash tells an interesting story enhanced by the performances of Miles Teller and J.K Simmons. The pleasing sounds of jazz music is constantly juxtaposed through the films more dramatic and sinister moments. Whilst the plot may not hold as much cultural significance as other films currently in cinemas, Whiplash makes for a refreshing film experience void of any scene fillers or moments of irrelevance.

Mark McDougall

Images: Sony Pictures

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