Whiplash ★★★★½

Thrilling, invigorating, visceral, intense, harsh, unpredictable, intense, vivid. These are words not typically associated with the average teacher/student drama, but thankfully WHIPLASH is much more FULL METAL JACKET than it is MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS.

Miles Teller, so excellent in last year's great THE SPECTACULAR NOW, officially announces himself as one of his generation's greatest actors here as Andrew, an aspiring jazz drummer from a working class family who managed to squeeze into a prestigious music school. J.K. Simmons (who hasn't been this scary since OZ) is equally riveting as a severe, borderline-sadistic music instructor (who is both revered and feared) at the school, who pushes Andrew nearly beyond the limits of sanity.

The sado-masochistic push/pull of their relationship forms the heart of WHIPLASH, and the interplay between the two actors is nothing short of breathtaking. This sure ain't no inspirational teacher movie, that's for sure. Where it ends up, what it means for the characters, and how we feel about it is both deeply unexpected, and unexpectedly exhilarating.

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