The lead character, Andrew Neyman, is a shy introverted kid with a single minded desire for greatness, a desire that the ruthless and perhaps sadistic Terence Fletcher sniffs out and dangles before him, permitting Fletcher to influence a psychological hold over the young musician.
Interestingly after Neyman bumps his head at the start of the movie, things get a bit hazy and this film could easily be ‘inception’ or just Neyman’s brutal reality, as he ends up in a nightmare realm full of his own fears and exerts little control over his rage, confronting his family, his peers and his mentors. At times the formerly introverted protégé has exuberant confidence to overcome the emotional hurdles in his life, at other times he is inflicted with the worst case scenario setbacks one could only find in dream like fantasy. The running theme of dripping blood is comatosing, it reminds us that this kid is on the edge and the bloodletting continues to build up anticipation of an intense eruption which could swing one way or the other.
Secondly I was a bit disappointed to read detractors like The New Yorker’s Richard Brody who complained that the protagonist was a tunnel visioned individual with no passion for creativity, and the film failed to capture the essence of jazz. Quite simply I don’t understand why critics pick holes like this in movies, such critics are basically reality tv junkies who’ve forgotten that movies are only two hours long, we don’t expect to go to the cinema to come out four days later having a well rounded view of the lead character’s entire life. This film is a tension boiler with psychological impact, if you want to go watch jazz there are plenty of musicians worth supporting and talking about, why spout a highbrow opinion on music about the one movie with a jazz element to actually come out of cinema.
Finally Whiplash deserves credit for the emotional roller coaster it provides, winner of both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the movie delivers every beat without rushing or dragging in a brilliantly rhythmic cinematic masterpiece.