Warning for Underage Viewers
Caution: This movie contains strong language and is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America.
R – Restricted: Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
It's Going To Be A Bumpy Ride
Get ready for a roller-coaster odyssey through the making of a music prodigy in the 2014 movie Whiplash. The ride is rough, and the journey is filled with blood, sweat and tears for 19-year-old Andrew, a talented drummer attending a prestigious music conservatory. One day, while practicing, Andrew catches the attention the competitive jazz group’s professor, Dr. Fletcher. The professor, memorably played by actor J.K. Simmons, runs his class like a drill sergeant. He expects perfection and accepts absolutely no excuses. The students fear the strict, no-nonsense, and abusive instructor. Although Andrew gets a small taste of the professor’s brutal behavior, he has no clue what he’s in for when asked to join the esteemed group’s class. Fletcher warns his future student that he’d better be in class, on time, at six a.m., and not a minute later! But the next morning, after jumping out of bed and racing to class, Andrew finds an empty classroom. He sits at the drums for three hours, waiting until nine a.m. when the rest of the class arrives. His new professor, Dr. Fletcher, walks into class unceremoniously at exactly nine a.m.
Pushed To The Limit
Whatever confidence boost Andrew received at being asked to join the distinguished class is quickly quashed as his new professor painstakingly points out every error he makes and berates him in front of the class. This type of baptism by fire ignites a blaze of ambition within the drummer, and he spends every waking hour in concentrated practice. He commits to memory the music played during class, including the extremely difficult piece, "Whiplash."
Day after day, week after week, the callous instructor subjects his ambitious new student to verbal abuse. At one point, the abuse turns physical when the professor throws a chair across the classroom that narrowly misses his student drummer. He also slaps Andrew across the face several times in a visceral and contemptuous lesson on tempo. But the young drummer perseveres and, even in the midst of negative feedback, his confidence slowly grows, especially when the group takes first place in a competition.
Andrew is pushed hard, but that drives him to practice as hard as he is pushed. His hands bleed through Band-Aids placed over cuts and calluses, caused by hours and hours of practice. He is a prodigy in the making — until he is abruptly dropped from the group after an unforeseen and unfortunate incident. Andrew has reached his lowest point in life. He has been expelled from school, and his once promising career is over. But he is not the only one to fall on hard times; after one of Professor Fletcher’s former students commits suicide, an anonymous complaint causes the school’s administration to release him from his contract. He is now playing music with a jazz group at a local bar when he and Andrew come face to face again. But, instead of being angry at his circumstances, the former professor invites Andrew to sit in and play the drums with a group of professional musicians in an upcoming concert in front of many influential music insiders.
The old feelings come rushing back as Andrew takes his drums out of the closet and begins to play again. He is elated that his old professor thinks enough of him to ask him to join his group. He shows up with his music in hand. As he walks onto the stage, he feels a sense of pride. He opens his music to the first song, Whiplash. He is ready. . . . But, he soon realizes he’s been set up. Fletcher announces to the audience that the group will begin their session with a different song, one Andrew has never heard of, and he doesn’t have the music. As the musicians begin playing, Andrew is lost. Fletcher walks over to him and says, “I know it was you that complained to the administration about me . . .” and this is his way of getting back at him. Andrew tries to improvise but when the music abruptly ends, he erroneously plays on for a few more bars until he realizes it’s over. Humiliated, he walks off of the stage in tears. He sees his father waiting for him, and as he hugs him, something comes over Andrew. He gains his confidence, turns around, and walks back onto the stage. What’s going on? Fletcher can’t believe he’s back. Andrew sits at his drums — and the final scene, although contentious at the start finally brings unanimity to the teacher and his student.
Too Much Boorish Terminology
Whiplash runs under two hours and, if it weren’t for the abundance of foul, vulgar language splashed throughout the 107-minute movie, I’d recommend it with 5 stars. As it stands, I give this 2014 Sundance Film Festival Winner — Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize a lower rating of 3 stars because of the profanity. The movie is rated R due to the strong (and some would say offensive) language.
Language aside, the story is nonetheless compelling, and it gives the audience a peek into the world of the extraordinarily talented, driven to be the best, and those whose job it is to cultivate these talented prodigies.
Introspective Movie Review Rating
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