WHIPLASH is about a sadistic conservatory band leader, Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), who pushes students, in particular Andrew (Miles Teller), to the limit.
Fletcher hurls abuses at band members and denigrates them. He uses personal information about Andrew, for example, about his mum who had walked out on her family when he was kid, and taunts him about his shortcomings. The students cower in fear of him.
As portrayed by Simmons, who won an Oscar best supporting actor award for this role, Fletcher really believes that he is pushing students to achieve their potential. Andrew asks him if this will make students lose heart. Fletcher says top students will not be put off by setbacks.
Watching this film for a second time made me realise that Fletcher could have been a guard at the infamous Abu Ghrabi prison in Iraq, which made headlines worldwide for leaked pictures showing US soldiers humiliating prisoners.
This film is about power, or specifically, those who use it to impose their will on others, even if they believe that they're doing good by doing so.
I take my hat off to writer-director Damien Chazelle for creating this intriguing film, which was nominated for best picture. The editing and sound mixing are top class. The screenplay is terrific, and I loved it when Fletcher tried to exact revenge on Andrew at the end.
4 out of 5 stars