#JustWatched Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, 2014)

February 13, 2017

Usually a film's aim is to get the audience behind a character. To really champion them. The audience can see the goal of the character and we really want to them to reach it. Whiplash moves that goalpost. It's geared to make you empathise with it's lead character but then it shifts gear and makes you despise him, keen to see him fail. Perhaps it's a reflection of seeing our friends succeed in life and how we can become bitter at the lack of our own success. Similar emotions can be felt towards Fletcher. He's a monster, he's a mentor, he's a monster, he's a mentor. Maybe the two are interchangeable. Maybe they're exactly the same. J.K Simmons switches between the two with ease, blending them into an unforgettable performance. Miles Teller literally gives blood, sweat and tears for this film and it works. It works so well. These performances combined with the divine cinematography and sharp direction result in a piece of cinema that made me question my own performance, my work ethic and the lengths we go to prove our worth. I love the moral ambiguity of Fletcher's methods and the morbid fascination that draws the audience to keep watching. I love how the film brings us to a conclusion about these methods, leaving us assured in the decision and then it pulls out the rug and we're wondering if he can push Andrew further because, as Damien Chazelle clearly knows, the audience loves a hero but perhaps they love a failure even more. 


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© Adam Gunton

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