Sticks and Stones… – ★★★★
Showing there was a lot of wisdom in Edison’s quotation about genius being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, Whiplash bursts onto our screens in a frenzy of blood sweat and tears. Miles Teller plays Andrew, a recently enrolled student at the best music college in America who wants nothing more than to be accepted into Fletcher’s band as the core drummer. Fletcher is played by J.K. Simmons and will scream, humiliate and hit his students until they are playing to his time.
Fletcher uses every manipulation trick going in order to undermine Andrew, making him try even harder to earn his place. They see themselves in one another. Andrew is driven headstrong and focused willing to cut out anything that will hamper him in his goal at becoming one of the greats. One might even go as far as saying he is on the spectrum for mild autism. Fletcher can see the determination in him and feels no remorse for putting him through hell.
While a specific story it has elements we can all identify with. We never want the easy compliment, it never means as much. The teacher, boss, or friend who doesn’t suffer fools or doles out compliments has the opinion that matters, whose approval we crave. Damien Chazelle the director, who has been given the chance to turn his 2013 short into a feature, doesn’t disappoint. In one early scene he shows how Andrew’s father is a walkover, unnecessarily apologetic and content with his lot in life. Andrew uses his father as motivation to ensure he doesn’t end up the same making him work till his hands bleed and he can’t stand up.
In the age of The Voice, X Factor and instant gratification, Whiplash calls a halt to all the nonsense and simply proclaims it you want to be the best you have to earn it. The question is are you prepared to give what it takes? For most of us the answer is no, we’re content with our position, or too lazy to do anything about it.
Chazelle is posing the age old question does the mean justify the end? You’ll have to decide that one for yourself.
Released in Ireland on January 16th 2015