What does it take to become a legend? How much strain, anxiety, and suffering does a person have to endure to achieve perfection, to rise to the highest echelons of their craft? How much must a person sacrifice? Most importantly, when the dust settles and they’ve met their goals, is the cost of greatness really worth it? These are the core questions posed by Whiplash, 2014’s Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury prize and Audience Award winner, which has received its first trailer.
The film, which is on its way to theaters for a fall 2014 release, comes courtesy of Damien Chazelle. It’s his sophomore effort following his 2009 debut, and the second screenplay he has credits on this year to focus on the competitive, cutthroat world of top tier musicianship (following March’s Grand Piano). Whiplash promises to be much different from that picture, though; rather than operate in the mode of a thriller, Chazelle’s new movie reads as an antithesis to all inspirational movies about young people fighting to realize their dreams.
Whiplash centers around Andrew (Miles Teller), a young and aspiring jazz drummer in attendance at one of the best music schools in the country; he hopes to mold himself into “one of the greats”, someone worth mentioning in the same breath as, say, Buddy Rich. But he’s not great – he’s certainly no Rich – and his instructor, Terence (J.K. Simmons), never lets him forget it in session after session of verbal (occasionally even physical) abuse, all designed to make Andrew into a better musician.
In another film, Terence might be a motivational figure, the kind of teacher who doles out nuggets of precious wisdom to the struggling students he takes under his wing. But this isn’t School of Rock, and Simmons isn’t Jack Black; rather than gently coax Andrew toward excellence, Terence spews bile at him in Simmons’ trademark staccato fashion, berating him with every strike of the snare.
The clip isn’t red-band, and thus doesn’t convey just how cruelly vulgar Terence’s jabs become. It does, however, convey the toll his tutelage takes on Andrew with clarity, driving a wedge between him and his father (Paul Reiser) and his girlfriend (Glee‘s Melissa Benoist). Think of Whiplash like Black Swan with jazz drumming, sans the body horror, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from it.
Teller’s career has taken him on a wild trajectory, from low budget efforts like 2013’s excellent The Spectacular Now, to more mainstream fare like Footloose and Divergent (and his role in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot). Whiplash puts him squarely back into indie territory, arguably his comfort zone, and it seems like the film’s greatest appeal will lie in seeing him lock horns with Simmons. We’ll see if Chazelle and his cast can live up to their own hype in just a few months.
Whiplash opens on October 10th, 2014.
Source: Yahoo! Movies