Dir: Damien Chazelle
Alan Watts tells us life’s journey is like a piece of music, and we are meant to dance. Enjoy every moment. This is sound life advice, but if you want genius,
if you want greatness through transformation,
sometimes you need to be prepared to learn some painful lessons. This is something aspiring Jazz drummer Andrew (Miles Teller) thinks he has already understood, practicing endlessly under a poster of his hero Buddy Rich.
But he hasn’t met his teacher yet.
Mentors come in many guises, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Terence Fletcher is just your run-of-the-mill sadist. J.K. Simmons throws down a truly intimidating performance as the unconventional teacher. A simmering savant of a man with an explosive temper, his shadow appears at the doors of practice sessions, listening out for the next potential member of his elite Studio Band; the jazz collective conducted by him at top music conservatory Shaffer. Students are equal part exhilarated and terrified to be considered for the ensemble.
This story is a classic hero’s journey chronicling the relationship between mentor/mentee and the painful lessons encountered on the path to true growth. I could love this film just for the soundtrack alone, which is incredible, but it can also leave you thinking about the people and situations that have pushed you in life and how they’ve added to your journey.
The finale to this film is truly a crescendo; deeply satisfying and one of my favourite’s ever. It’s totally inspiring, if I can say that without sounding cliche.
Trigger warning for anyone sensitive to swearing. Personally, I like a good swear and Fletcher bangs out some of the most offensive put-downs ever – so good, you have to smile…a little bit, but if you are of a more delicate nature and aren’t keen on the kind of language you might hear in a Barracks/Navvy crew, this one isn’t for you.
Bit of trivia for you – Whiplash is the name of the song that Neimann practices incessantly, but the finale song is actually called,…unbelievably, ‘Caravan’. I don’t know how well it would have done at the box office if they had gone with that alternative title.
A must watch with bonus points from me for an incredible soundtrack.
Available on Netflix and YouTube, or click on the link below to get it on Amazon Prime. Perfect Friday night viewing. Let me know what you think…