Film, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(15user reviews)

You already know the ferocious jazz teacher played by JK Simmons in the electrifying New York-set drama ‘Whiplash’ if you've seen things like ‘Full Metal Jacket’, ‘Battle Royale’ and even the grizzly bear in ‘Grizzly Man’. Clad fully in black, biceps bulging, Simmons’s Fletcher exudes attitude: he rules the top department of an elite New York music school with a clenched first.

Part of the joy of watching dramas like this must be a masochistic thrill in seeing young hopefuls suffer: drumming student Andrew (Miles Teller from ‘The Spectacular Now’, fully convincing) is nearly destroyed by this monster, a barking man who’s impossible to please. Yet even though our hero’s knuckles bleed and his snare gets spattered, you think: that’s some truly glorious noise he’s making. The discipline and beauty of bebop has never been better served by a film.

‘Whiplash’ might have followed this trajectory to a feel-good destination, one involving a recital, some proud parents and a teary hug. But that’s not where the young American writer-director Damien Chazelle wants to go – and bless him for it. Fletcher’s put-downs become more vicious (and riotously un-PC), the drive to perfection turns Andrew into a bitter, uncaring boyfriend, and the plot’s tone nears that of a thriller, sometimes awkwardly.

Credibility becomes shaky: will a violent car crash prevent Andrew from staggering to the gig in a concussed delirium? Don’t ask. Disappointing Fletcher is too terrifying a prospect. But there’s also unusual, spiky attention paid to the pursuit of excellence, as Andrew begins to resent the mediocre achievements of his family. By the end, he’s an arrogant, cymbal-smashing machine.

How breathtaking it is to see a story go there. The identity this teen chases after is a lonely one, but it’s impeccably on the beat. Real art, the movie suggests, isn’t for those who merely hope to do a ‘good job’ and please themselves. ‘Whiplash’ explores the outer reaches of crazy passion. It never apologises. And the flurry of drumming it ends with – Teller’s solo is staggering – is both a magical cacophony and, obliquely, a door slamming shut. I don’t know if I'd show this film to a curious young person, not unless you’d ever want to see them again. They’d be in their room, practicing, forever.


Release details

Release date:
Friday January 16 2015
105 mins

Cast and crew

Damien Chazelle
Damien Chazelle
Miles Teller
J.K. Simmons
Paul Reiser

Average User Rating

3.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:2
4 people listening
2 of 2 found helpful

Yes, I loved it  too, especially as it reminds me (a little) of my music teacher and his incessant putdowns. I am not a percussion fan, but really enjoyed the drumming and music. Reminiscent of Fame, and this is where you start paying. The audience loved the film and we all seemed to leave with a spring in our step and animated by the ending. 

3 of 4 found helpful

I was quite disturbed to see that the reviewer's rated this film so highly. It explores the topic of how to inspire students to greatness. I felt like I was watching a time warp from the 1950s when some male coaches and teachers could physically and verbally abuse students with homophobic and sexist rage, shame, and almost unimaginable humiliation. Further imagine a teacher who uses your deepest and darkest secrets such as the abandonment from your own mother to repeatedly scream at you "That she left you and your father because you are worthless pieces of s**t". Chazelle seriously subjects the audience to his belief that this deeply scarring rage and abuse is required to create a great musician. This movie is more of a deeply disturbing example of why many men will never begin to heal from the layers of shame, depression, and rage. I 'd hate to see this movie nominated for anything and suggest it's creator pick up a book about what really motivates people and recent research into shame, humiliation and the real material of greatness.


2 of 3 found helpful

It's a captivating film but with the wrong message. This crazy run for excellent is a society killer because everyone who is not 'good enough' will suffer and be humiliated. You can find this same message in Hell's Kitchen- 'You have to suffer really bad to be successful' which is nonsense. This teaching method is old fashioned and based on fear like training bears in the circus. You can get great results by teaching with compassion. When someone really loves what they do, they will excel because they want to and not because they are afraid from a lunatic shouting at them! It's not surprising that many musicians had an issue with this film because they know that music is not just about being precise. Being playful and enjoying playing the music is equally important and barely discussed in this film. You get people saying that they can't draw, play music and cook just because they are scared from failure. The responsibility for this is that crazy drive for excellence. We will get a much more productive society if we'll teach people that it's ok to fail. More people will start trying and we will get many more capable people rather then just few superstars.


While it's a relatively familiar storyline on the surface - aspiring young talent trying to impress a tough/bordering on abusive teacher - it is actually so much more than this (particularly the ending). The relationship between Teller and Simmons is intense and executed perfectly. The conclusion of the story is what really sets it apart, in that it doesn't  follow the usual tropes. It's as much a movement of respect as much as it is an act of defiance and ends the film briliiantly


I'm would never have expected a film about a teenage drummer trying to make it big would have made it onto my list of favourite films but somehow it has. This film is incredibly intense. following the perseverance of two characters with so much passion for music and being the best that they are willing to sacrifice everything. You can really feel the drive, ambition and suffering coursing through the veins of this film with some absolutely fantastic acting from the J.K, Simmons who plays the role of the slave-driving, abusive, perfectionist band tutor. The final scene of this film is epic!


I must agree, Whiplash is quite a disturbing movie. It does question the teacher's ethics and habits, as well as what it takes to be the best in whatever domain you choose...

But in the end, it also shows that you can stand up!

I can't get bored of watching people fighting for their passion (and passionate people, because Fletcher seem to be as passionate as the young Andrew) and that's what this movie is all about!

Both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are extremely convincing in this movie and the sounds are awesome.
To summarize, I really believe this movie has been widely underrated and I can't seem to recommend it enough! 

I absolutely loved this film, from beginning to end I was hooked on the performances of the main characters, especially Simmons who was by turns hilarious and terrifying. When you consider that the film is really just the two main characters in a small room, one playing drums and the other being a complete psycho, yet it somehow manages to compel you to sit through it and enjoy every second, you begin to understand how special this film really is. I haven't seen anything like it before, and I doubt I will do for a long time yet (until I re-watch Whiplash perhaps). The film left me with a warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach, it's top quality cinema and the director should be applauded for trying something new that on paper, sounds terrible.

Taking the tropes of the sports movie – ambitious rookie, authoritarian coach, a grand finale to bring things to a head – and applying them to the world of jazz scholarships, Whiplash manages to bring an elitist world to vivid life. The results draw you in completely, to the point where you’ll be chewing your fingers as our hero attempts a particularly ambitious paradiddle.


A deserved Oscar for JK Simmons. My arse cheeks were clenched for every second he was on screen. Amazing performance in an amazing film. Definitely the best of this year's Oscar bunch.

Rather than about the music or the drumming, this is an interesting movie about the dynamics of a disturbed character, the likes of whom you can find in colleges and other institutions with or without the mark of excellence. There is this normal but ambitious guy who matures his skills into great proficiency while at the same time learning how to stand his own ground. Could he have acquired the same skills without the endless abuses of his tutor? Probably, he could have become an even better musician. Thinking that you need that kind of treatment to learn any art at its best, is totally laughable. Persecutors like the one in this film can only inspire people to leave the building asap.

I learned how to play the drums by myself, after a few introductory lessons from a friend, a gentle, dedicated guy who taught me the very basics. I was in love with the music of some drummers and becoming as good as them was all my inspiration. I didn't need any constriction to spend hours on the stool drumming away. Drumming connects very directly with the joy of being alive and playing in a band is one of the greatest, most elating ways of connecting with other people. And  thinking that the rehearsal of a numerous, talented band can be turned into a terrorizing bootcamp and kept on a deadlock for hours on impalpable variations of speed that somebody who is not the drummer himself tries to impose from above, as it happens on this movie as a kind of display of "professionalism", is simply absurd. To all the aspiring drummers, if anyone puts you in that position, no matter what a great musician or tutor the person might be, tell him to sod off. Tell him, that he understood nothing about bands and the real power of music. The really damn good music.

Staff Writer

Intense, uncomfortable and disturbing, but a powerfully conveyed message, and some incredible drumming.  I didn't like the story, but Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are both incredibly talented.

For anyone who’s ever loved music at school or college this is a captivating film. The drumming is magnificent and the story original and entertaining, although the film could benefit from losing 15 - 20 minutes. But on the plus side it has inspired me to go out and buy some drums!

Staff Writer

Fantastic ... loved the music, the acting was spot on, the plot was to the point and not drawn out. If people miss this the first time round, they'll pick it up later and wonder how it passed them by. Problem is, I now keep drumming rhythms out on anything that makes a sound, much to the annoyance of my fellow workmates. Enjoy!

I have to say I really loved this. 

fast paced and lots of nods to iconic fighting films. When it ended I wanted to jump up and applaud, that doesn't happen much.

Powerful, intense drama. The editing is superb. There`s blood on them skins. Three and a half stars.