Miles Teller is Andrew Neyman, an aspiring jazz drummer obsessed with the greats like Buddy Rich, who despite not coming from a musical family earns his way into one of the most prestigious music academies based on his raw talent. After catching the eye of veteran instructor Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), Neyman is invited to try out for a spot in the school’s top ensemble. But soon after, Fletcher shows himself to be a driving, berating hard ass that will stop at nothing for perfection, even if it drives his students to lengths of extreme exhaustion and madness.
Teller and Simmons are fantastic in epic faceoff between student and mentor. Simmons is drill sergeant-like with his caustic verbal tirades, often delivered mere inches from Teller’s face. Teller more than holds his own though, as Andrew’s steely-faced determination and willingness to drive his body to extremes reads all over Teller’s face in one of the best performances of the year so far. In an excellent supporting role as Andrew’s father, the under-appreciated Paul Reiser lends another layer of emotion to the proceedings as a man just trying to protect his son.
The final 20 minutes of Whiplash are more tense than 2 Jason Borne film’s combined, and will leave the audience jumping out if their seats when it’s finished. It’s a riveting finale for a film that will have audiences entranced throughout, and will likely be under heavy consideration around awards season.