For Reel

Whiplash (2014)
December 25, 2014, 4:54 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Damien Chazelle
4.5 Stars
WhiplashThe implications of Whiplash are rather frightening. It’s a film about a sociopathic teacher and a student who is ultimately responsive to his methods. Part of what makes the picture so great is this challenging dilemma–it never quite answers whether or not the end justifies the means, but it does validate the teaching method in a way that is not without judgment, but also not entirely neglected. What makes Whiplash truly great, though, is the achievement of director Damien Chazelle in creating a film that somehow feels like jazz itself. Tom Cross’ editing is often slightly jarring, with cuts not occurring quite when one would expect. The resulting form doesn’t feel mechanical, rather completely organic. Furthermore, it brilliantly stages its musical numbers–the highlight being the thrilling drum solo climax–as visually dynamic setpieces that match the spirit of the music, with the occasional bursts of rapid editing coming off as the filmmaking equivalent of drum fills. Chazelle also visually serves his leads well, playing with shot scale and angles to convey the mentor/student relationship that grows increasingly complicated and shifts in some entirely unexpected ways.

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