A must-see movie: Whiplash

A must-see movie: Whiplash

Rowan Bergen, Writer

Drum sticks striking the drum set. BAM. BAM. BAM. BAM. A harsh looking man stands in the doorway. The boy begins striking the drum set again. BAM. BAM. BAM. BAM. Whiplash is an intense movie about a student drummer trying to gain someones approval. After much pain he finally does. Whiplash is a must-see.

Opening scene. Andrew Neimann, student drummer at Shaffer Conservatory of Music, playing the drums with intensity. Terence Fletcher, band conductor stands in the doorway and Andrew quits playing. Fletcher begins asking him a few personal questions, then asks why he quit playing. Andrew begins playing the drums again. After he finishes, Fletcher says he didn’t tell him to keep playing when he asked why he quit playing. Then he asks Andrew to show his musical rudiments and slams the door while Andrew is playing. Then he comes back to retrieve the jacket he left behind.

The next day in class Andrew meets Ryan Connelly, a fellow drummer. Shortly after class begins, Andrew sees the silhouette of a man, who we think is Fletcher, in the doorway. After class he goes to look in a classroom and sees Fletcher and Fletcher looks back at him. Later back in class (Studio Band), Andrew is playing as the core drummer when Fletcher bursts into the room and makes every member play a few measures then abruptly and rudely stops them. After being conducted Fletcher tells Andrew to come to his room at 6 a.m. the next morning.

Then we see Andrew meet a girl at the movie theater, Nicole, and invite her on a date. The next morning Andrew wakes up at 6:03 a.m. and realizing he is late. Going so quickly to class, he trips and falls. When he arrives the classroom is empty. After 3 hours the class fills and precisely at 9 a.m. Fletcher walks in the door and begins conducting.

The band practices the song “Whiplash”. During practicing he abruptly stops the band, yells at a student for being off key, and proceeds to scream for the student to leave Studio Band. We finally the Fletcher’s full scale abusiveness and harshness.

After a short break, class begins again and Andrew is playing the drums. Fletcher becomes enraged about Andrew not getting the right tempo. He proceeds to hurl a chair at Andrew, who avoids the chair. Then Fletcher continues to yell at him, getting more harsh and aggressive as he continues.

When Andrew goes home he keeps practicing the drums. He keeps practicing until his hands are bleeding. After performing at a band competition, a fellow drummer gives Andrew his music folder and Andrew loses it. In result of all of his practice, Andrew fills in for him. After his performance he earns the other drummers spot. Then when at home eating dinner with his family he speaks of Shaffer and no one cares or approves of him becoming a drummer.

After learning a new song, Fletcher dismisses the class except for Andrew. Fletcher brings in Ryan Connelly then tests both Andrew and Connelly on their tempos. Andrew fails while Connelly plays well. Fletcher then gives to part to Connelly, and Andrew doesn’t agree. Jealous, Andrew is told if he earns the part he will become core drummer.

Then Andrew breaks up with Nicole, saying that his will to become famous will slowly break them apart. Home again, we see Andrew playing the drums again with a pitcher of ice water next to him. After failing to reach the optimal tempo his hand is bleeding and we see him punches and breaks the drum in anger, then puts his band is the ice pitcher.

In class Fletcher tearfully tells the students about a former skilled student, Sean Casey, who has died in a car accident. After the core drummer struggles with the new tempo Fletcher proceeds to audition Connelly, Andrew, and the other drummer. After hours of grueling playing plus Fletcher screeching at them, Andrew begins playing again and Fletcher begins throwing chairs and drums. When Andrew finally reaches the required tempo his hand is bleeding and drips onto the drum.

On the way to another competition the bus Andrew is riding breaks down. Next he rents a car but shows up to rehearsal late. Then Fletcher yells at him saying he can’t perform and tells him he forgot his drum sticks. Andrew drives back to the car rental, grabs his drum sticks, only to be hit by a truck. He pulls himself from the wreckage and runs back to the competition completely bloodied and injured. While playing he drops his drum stick due to his hand injury. After the performance Fletcher says Andrew can’t play and Andrew attacks Fletcher in front of the audience.

Andrew is expelled from Shaffer and is approached by a lawyer representing Sean Casey. He learns that Sean Casey actually committed suicide by hanging himself due to his anxiety and depression while being in Fletcher’s class. By agreeing to testify Andrew gets Fletcher fired.

Later Andrew goes to a club and sees Fletcher performing. He begins to walk out after the performance but Fletcher calls him and they talk for a while. Then Fletcher invites Andrew to be the drummer for a band that he’s conducting for the JVC festival concert. Andrew agrees, but when he invited Nicole he learns that she has a new boyfriend.

When they’re about to perform Fletcher says he knows Andrew testified and in response he doesn’t give Andrew the sheet music for the piece he’s performing. After the performance Andrew leaves the stage humiliated, but then returns and interrupts by playing the song they’d been learning in Studio Band, the song he couldn’t get the right tempo. When the rest of the band joins him, Fletcher follows. Then Andrew has an intense drum solo, where he finally reaches the correct tempo, at first earning an angry glare. But finally when he is finished he earns an appreciative nod from Fletcher.

I think that while this is a great movie, it is very disturbing. It’s about an abusive teacher breaking a student over and over until they get to the point of either discouragement or utter determination. While I think it’s good to push someone to do their very best I don’t think that the character Fletcher approached it in the right way. But in the end Andrew got what he wanted. He wanted someone to finally give him to approval he so desires.

I also think that Fletcher somewhat symbolizes what society stands for. Fletcher stands for the unattainable goals in society that us being humans cannot fulfill. Fletcher wants Andrew to be the perfect drummer, to have the perfect tempo, and he pushes him past his limit to get to this place. Society wants us to be beautiful, smart, famous, and successful. But it pushes some of us past our limits to get to these places.

But overall I believe this movie has an incredible plot, interesting story line, and the acting was spectacular by Miles Teller as Andrew and J.K. Simmons as Fletcher.