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Music, drive, and the pursuit of excellence. 

Year: 2014 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Damien Chazelle 
Starring: J. K. Simmons, Miles Teller  
An image from Whiplash

This is a story about two men; Terrence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons), an ageing conductor at a prestigious conservatory, still aching to find an all-time musical great; and Andrew Nieman (Miles Teller), a young drummer whose own parents' disappointment at missing their dreams relentlessly spurs him on to succeed.

Neiman will do anything to impress Fletcher, keep his spot in Fletcher's highly select swing band and become the best. However it is soon clear that Fletcher is a skilled manipulator and swings from likeable to a vicious tormenter at the drop of a hat; insulting, attacking, and even playing Nieman off against his fellow students in an effort to drive him (and everyone else) closer to greatness.

Not that this film is only accessible to music aficionados. This is film at its quintessence; pared down to its key elements. At its core, Whiplash is about these two men and the tension inherent in their relationship: Fletcher's drive to find the next jazz legend; and Nieman's desire to prove that it's him. This film is all about drive and the sacrifice that those who really aim for greatness will endure, and is absolutely riveting from start-to-finish.

J. K. Simmons is absolutely on form in the role of his career; and Miles Teller, no rookie to films and TV, absolutely shines in his role. An absolute must-see.

Natalie Tyldesley-Marshall

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Screenings of this film:

2014/2015 Spring Term (digital)