REEL TO REAL: WHIPLASH POSES THE QUESTION – IS MUSICAL GENIUS A PRODUCT OF OBSESSIVE BEHAVIOR OR CREATIVE INSPIRATION?

Whiplash_poster

Written & directed by Damien Chazelle
Starring Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons & Paul Reiser.

Whiplash – the story of Andrew Neiman (Teller), a young jazz drummer who attends one of the best music schools in the country under the tutelage of Terence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons), the school’s fearsome maestro of jazz – has been the surprise package for the Academy Awards, garnering Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Simmons.

But in truth, there is nothing much to recommend Whiplash with even for musicians. Both Neiman and Fletcher are portrayed as seriously damaged individuals, who value technical musical achievement above human relationships. Worse still, the characterizations are very one-dimensional and somewhat impenetrable, as if director Chazelle wanted us to view these musical obsessives as freaks.

If that is the case, then Chazelle certainly succeeds in making Whiplash a bit of a freakshow but at the expense of narrative logic. Without spoiling key plot points, much of the third act and especially the climax, is simply ridiculous and unimaginable. One is left wondering what message Chazelle was trying to communicate here, that he had to sacrifice the temporary suspension of disbelief.

In addition, the movie totally distorts the concept of musical creativity – as if one could torture oneself into being an artistic genius, with blood, sweat and tears. Personally, I found that utterly disgusting and offensive.

Truly undeserving of Oscar buzz whatsoever.

In cinemas now.

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