Whiplash

Director: Damien Chazelle

Get ready yourself for duelling drumsticks in this blistering bee-bop battle that’s deservedly nominated for five Oscars – including Best Film.

When a menacing music master goes cymbal to cymbal with his drumming protégé, it’s as exhilarating and exhausting for us as for them.

Young Andrew Neiman, played by Miles Teller, is a scholar at the Shaffer Conservatory, the most highly respected music school in the US.

Inspired by the performances of the legendary band leader Buddy Rich, he dreams of being the greatest jazz drummer who ever lived.

But he’s tutored by the fearsome Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons) who demands perfection and is infamous for his torturous teaching technique.

Always dressed immaculately in black, Fletcher is a door-slamming, cymbal-slinging monster who relishes humiliating individual students in front of their classmates.

Hilariously vicious and intense, JK Simmons will surely add a Best Supporting Oscar to the Golden Globe and SAG award he’s already collected for his electric performance.

Though Neiman’s increasingly selfish behaviour provides for a cringing dinner table scene, Neiman’s treatment of pretty cinema cashier Nicole (Melissa Benoist) is where our attitude towards the musician becomes more complex.

His father Jim (Paul Reiser) is also ill-served by his son’s ambition which rears it’s head ever higher, taking advantage of the misfortune of classmates in the pursuit of his dream.

As well as giving up buckets of sweat, blood and tears, he has a car crash while preparing for sharp-suited public competitions. A classroom confrontation ends badly for both of the combatants.

Yet one last contest before an audience of prestigious and influential movers and shakers allows for a final battle of wills. It is centred around Fletcher’s favoured performance piece, Whiplash.

This thrilling drama is sharp, cruel and incredibly foulmouthed and when the final note is sounded, the ferocious acting and a terrifically powerful percussive score will leave your nerves as shredded as the actors’ bloodied, blistered fingers.

★★★★★

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