SUNDANCE REVIEW: WHIPLASH

Whiplashnew

Image : sundance.org

Text by : Natasha Samtani

January 17, 2014

Today, few musicians, if any, are truly considered the greatest of their time.  Why?  Two words: good job.  This is the resonating message of one of this year’s nominees for the US Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival, Whiplash

What could have been just another film about a struggling musician hoping to succeed against all odds, Whiplash, which premiered last night proves far from banal.  This short-film turned feature is an unglamorous portrayal of the plights of a striving musician attending a hyper-competitive music conservatory.  Ultimately, he desires to be the greatest drummer of his time despite the wrath of his stringent and at times manic conductor. 

This drama is a stellar combination of high-impact, awkward, and heart-wrenching scenes that cumulate in a highly successful piece. Consisting of incredible cinematography and extraordinary performances by both Miles Teller and J.K Simmons, the film serves as an unbelievable breakthrough for the leading actors, as well as a career-defining moment for 28 year-old writer-director Damien Chazelle.  Teller, who plays the 19-year old drummer, puts on a soul-driven and extremely moving performance with literal blood, sweat, and tears.  Simmons’ portrayal of the conductor is almost terrifying, as he embodies the ruthless spirit of his character in all respects. 

Highly inspired, the film is loosely based off of the director’s personal experience and drives home the message that there is no line when it comes to pushing boundaries in the quest to being the best.  Chazelle can expect both critical and financial success following the premier last night, as it was officially announced that Sony Pictures Worldwide has acquired the film’s international distribution rights.