This Wednesday I ventured to a/perture cinema in downtown Winston-Salem (a place I’d last been to as a freshman during the Riverrun Film Festival) to see Whiplash along with several of my classmates. It, along with several of the Best Picture-nominated films this year, has been on my radar for the past few months. Dr. Dalton decided to take our class on a “field trip” of sorts to see it. I immediately jumped at the opportunity. With the film’s somewhat limited release, and my own failure to screen it over Winter Break I felt like passing on this offer would be a regrettable action. After all, what other chance would I have to it before its release on DVD? Having finally watched the movie, I can say that the decision I made was the correct one. Whiplash was fantastic as both a film and as an experience. It was well-crafted, well-acted, stunningly edited, entertaining and gripping from start to finish. This is a movie that can speak to many people in a wide variety of ways.
For me, it was the journey of the protagonist Andrew (Miles Teller), and his conflict with music instructor Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). This told not only a gripping story, but also showed the lengths to which Andrew was willing to go in order to achieve his goal: to accomplish his dream of becoming a renowned drummer. Throughout the film he pushed forward against every obstacle that was thrown his direction, whether it be Fletcher’s abusive teaching style, or a car accident on the way to a competition that leaves battered, bloodied, and bruised. His passion and desire to prove his skill to everyone (especially Fletcher) prevents him from giving up until he is kicked out of the band.
While at times he goes too far (especially in how he breaks up with his girlfriend), I still find his drive to be something that ought to be admired. I have my own interests, my own passions, that I certainly feel a strong sense to pursue yet I cannot help but wish my own drive was elevated. Perhaps not to Andrew’s level, but certainly higher than it is now. I want to get into the film industry, and I understand the level of passion that such an endeavor will entail. I can not settle for doing just a “good job” (the two most dangerous words in the English language according to Fletcher, but to be one of the best.
Does anyone else feel the same way? Is there something that gets your blood flowing where you won’t let anything get in the way? Where “good” just isn’t good enough? Is there another element that spoke to you in this film outside of the protagonist’s unflinching focus on pushing himself to the limit? In the end, the film was great not only in how it was crafted, but also in how it allows the viewer to reflect on his own life – whether his interest lies in music or in something else entirely.
Source Consulted: “Whiplash.” imdb.com. The Internet Movie Database n.d. Web. 23 January 2015. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2582802/ (mostly to refresh memory on character names)