Movie Review: Whiplash

Have you ever wanted to be really, really good at something? Maybe you have a talent for music, or sports. You'll want to practice hard to hone that talent, right? Make yourself the best of the best?

Whiplash is what happens when obsessiveness kicks in, with both student and teacher, and it becomes unhealthy. Dangerous, even.

Miles Teller (Divergent, The Spectacular Now) is the best I've ever seen him here, as Andrew, a first-year music school student in NYC. He's a drummer, but is relegated to pageturner for the "core" drummer in the lower-qualified band - until the legendary Dr. Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) finds him practicing in a university room one day, and invites him to be the pageturner for the upper-level jazz band. Soon enough, Andrew has snatched the "core" chair for himself, and this is the beginning of a toxic student-teacher relationship that will push him to his breaking point - and beyond.

Teller and Simmons are fantastic in this movie. I saw the trailer at the Maple Theater a few months ago, and knew immediately that I wanted to see it - as a violinist, I love movies about music (and also about crazy people, ha) and I'm also a fan of Teller and Simmons. Austin Stowell (Dolphin Tale) has a small role as another freshman drummer, too, and Melissa Benoist (TV's Glee) as a girl that Teller briefly dates.

Yes, definitely see this movie. Right now it's only playing at the Maple Theater in the Detroit area, but perhaps it will expand to other theaters soon. My only complaint about the movie is I would have liked to have heard from the other players in the jazz band - a conversation between a few of them would have been interesting to overhear. The stars of this show, however, are Teller and Simmons, and aside from a few scenes with Teller and Benoist, and Teller and his father (Paul Reiser), the camera rarely focuses on anyone else; a smart idea, as these two have fantastic "crazy people" chemistry. Whiplash will make you gasp more than a few times throughout, but you also won't be able to tear your eyes from the screen, and it's a film that will make you think about it long after the credits have rolled.

Whiplash is currently playing in theaters, and is rated R with a runtime of 107 minutes. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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