Andrew is 19, and wants to be the best drummer of his generation. While he’s studying at Manhattan Music Conservatory, Terence Fletcher, a feared music teacher, selects him to be part of his prestigious class. Fletcher wants to discover the new Charlie Parker and his level of expectation – and sadism – towards his students seems to never stop rising.
In a world where teenage vampires seem to be the most exciting life can get, a movie about a boy willing to overcome his own capacities in order to become who he wants to be is refreshing and more than welcome. The audience’s heart beats to the rhythm of Andrew’s drumsticks, while fear and hope go higher and higher.
J K Simmons, charismatic and despicable, is impeccable as the teacher who only lives “for his tempo”. The duet with Milles Teller, all dark eyes and frown eyebrows, is perfect. Teller drums like a boxer in the ring, and both his talents, as musician and actor, are now indisputable.
Blood and sweat (but only one tear) drop on the percussion, beautifully enhanced by an alternating of the cold lights of the studio and the warm lights of the stage. The director sure knows how to capture hopes, unease, manipulation and love: his close ups on partitions, lips, hands and copper are remarkable.
Whiplash asks a real question: is it better to be quite good and do a good job without going further, or do we have to try harder in order to succeed in a world that is becoming more and more pitiless? A thing is certain: Chazelle is already a excellent director, and the odds are that that if he has the same will as Andrew, he will become an amazing one.
The UK release date for Whiplash is yet to be announced.
Read more reviews from Cannes Film Festival 2014 here.
For further information about the festival, visit the official website here.
Watch a clip from Whiplash here: