Sunday, February 2 2014, 02:20 PM MST
Sundance 2014: Whiplash
4 out of 5 Stars
Director: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons
Category: U.S. Dramatic
Recommended to: Those looking for a pair of great performances in a brutally uplifting film.
Synopsis: Andrew, a 19-year-old drummer, attempts to gain the favor of his overly aggressive music instructor while pursuing his dreams of becoming a great jazz musician.
Review: There are two sides to Miles Teller's career: The side I can't stand (21 & Over, Project X) and the side that I want to like but can't quite (The Spectacular Now, Rabbit Hole) because the other side gets in the way. With Whiplash I finally was able to simply enjoy Teller's performance (That Awkward Moment might spoil all that again). He's still playing a cocky character, but like Llewyn Davis (from Inside Llewyn Davis), Andrew is an artist in search of perfection and for some reason that makes the arrogance a little more digestible. Or maybe its the brilliant family dinner moment where he brutally assesses his relatives football career. Either way I'm finally on his, or at least Andrews side as he faces off against J.K. Simmons menacing performance as Terence Fletcher, one of the most manipulative teachers in the history of cinema. Hes vicious in the most brilliantly bipolar sort of way and it makes the ongoing battle between Terence and Andrew as enjoyable as it is painfully destructive.
In Whiplash writer/director Damien Chazelle has crafted an engrossing piece of cinema that is both brutal and cerebral. Its not exactly a feel-good film, but it will leave you cheering as the credits roll.
-Ryan Michael Painter
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)