Film festival comes alive with a ‘whiplash’


For music connoisseurs as well as laymen, the American drama film, about a jazz drummer, is a rewarding watch.

On the priority list of the IFFK delegates, American films typically rank somewhere at the bottom.

They tend to gravitate towards the Latin American, African and even the small South East Asian nations. But on Saturday, the buzz was around an American drama film Whiplash, on a young jazz drummer’s punishing training stint under a demanding and fearsome tutor. And, it did live up to the hype as the audience left the theatres with loud cheers.

All the lightness and deft touches that makes the jazz genre is made up for by the narrative of the film, which is a pulsating contrast. The jazz training sessions that the 19-year-old Andrew undergoes with the college ensemble, under the strict watch of the conductor Fletcher, are reminiscent of the legendary marines training sessions of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.

Fletcher wants to create a legend like Buddy Rich, from among his students. He showers abuses, he throws chairs and he manipulates them emotionally, when they fail to touch his exalting standards. The tempo that they play in is always a “little too slow” or “too fast for me”. Andrew, in his single-minded pursuit to be one of the legends in jazz, dumps his girlfriends, sweats and bleeds it out in the practice room. But, a compliment from Fletcher remains elusive.

Despite the riveting first half, one gets a feeling that it’s going the way that musical prodigy movies are supposed to go, touching every predictable note. But, Damien Chazelle who wrote and directed the film has other ideas as he does what the protagonist is striving to do – to go where no one else has gone till date. And, he succeeds in that endeavour.

For music connoisseurs as well as laymen, Whiplash is a rewarding watch, for the taut script which keeps alive the tension, the attention to detail and some good old jazz music.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 11:14:16 AM |

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