This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Calebe S.S.’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
During all the time I've been present around Letterboxd, I've talked about a lot films that I've emotionally really connected with, and I've talked about some that really changed my life as a whole. But for some inexplicable reason, I've very rarely talked about Whiplash, a film about a drummer and about his struggles to accomplish the so-called perfection.
And it's, if you really didn't notice, my favorite (live-action) movie of all time. So I want to clarify here, why, out of all the crappy disasters that I've witnessed, and out of all the pieces of art that I've experienced, why is this the one that I can genuinely say it's "my favorite one"? Well, firstly, it has J.K. Simmons... and secondly... it's kinda the most well executed thing in every single imaginable way since Super Mario 64.
The direction conducted by Damien Chazelle just knocks your soul into this dark world he creates within his movie. Every shot just tells a little story that is continued by another shot, and then by another one, and then by another one, and so on and so forth. And the editing just makes this film so outstanding, that it becomes possibly the most well edited film that you can find out there.
But beyond from just being a directorial marvel, the script is filled with incredibly quoteable dialogues. And most of time, it has some reaaaally dark ones that just makes you wonder how will they be delivered in near-perfection by any actor. And this movie is very lucky, because it has some REALLY mindblowing acting performances, that makes them possibly the strongest reasons why the story continues with such a strong pace.
For real, this is not one of those movies where it has one or two scenes that feels very useless. This movie is not one of those films, every scene has a purpose, even if it is for the plot to progress, or even if it is in service of a beautifuly executed theme. And this is where momentum plays a huge role in this film. Sometimes it will want you to hold up from what comes next, and then the what comes next, and it just leaves your mouth open by nearly two hours. Kinda like jazz, catchy, dinamic, and sometimes, even groundbreaking. And speaking of jazz...
I'm not really what you would call a huge jazz fan, but I really enjoy its variety of tunes, and this film's soundtrack really proves that for me. Songs like "Caravan" and even "Whiplash", are really catchy and really humable, and sometimes, even traumatizable. And the soundtrack really helps the movie in becoming very very rewatchable, and don't worry I'll come back to the "becoming very very rewatchable" part later.
And all of those elements I've mentioned before, really makes the movie on being what it is, something that you don't want to see, but at the same time, it's something that you can't just help but feel anxious about how it will end. And of course, we know must talk about the two things that makes this film stand out as being one of the most remarkable cinematic experiences ever created: the story and characters.
As I've said the before, this film is about a drummer that struggles to accomplish perfection, it's a resumed plot of the film. But after thinking about it a while, it's not ONLY about perfection. It's also about becoming someone greater than you are, and about being recognized for your works. And the movie really dwells on that during Neiman's family dinner scene, and most obviously, during the break-up scene. But... is becoming someone greater really good for us?
And since we're already talking about the theme of the movie, I've seen a lot of people criticizing the movie for being moraly wrong in thinking that everyone should accomplish perfection, and that only the artists are capable of being great. But... the movie never really tells what is right and what's wrong with each characters' decisions.
In fact, it's up to you to decide what is the theme of the film. Maybe it's about being greater, and struggling to be better, even if that means having a lot of burn-outs. Or maybe it's a story about just having a normal life about how breaking your limits might hurt you mentally, and even lead you to death.
You're free to think anything about the movie's theme, but you can't deny, that it might not be what the movie was trying to tell, and it might mean something else for someone else. And this is one of my favorite reasons for this movie being "my favorite one". Damien just didn't follow one rule, because he could've made a good arc story, or he could've made a bad arc story, but no, he decided to ask a question, and never really respond certainly.
Because, this question (the question being the theme of the movie), is a question that he was never really certain of its answer (in my opinion, I might be wrong). So, he made an incredibly smart move, to let the audience answer it. But I'm not saying that making an open-ended arc is better than all the other arcs that exists in the vast history of storytelling art. But what am I saying is, that Damien made a very risky choice to use a different path, a path that not many storytellers walked on, a path that would break the laws of storytelling art, and it broke, and still is breaking. It's a path that means that Cinema can change and be something else than what has already been done.
And all of that is accomplished, during the movie's final sequence. Whiplash's final sequence is subjectively the best final sequence I've ever seen in a film, yet. The dinamic direction, the breathtaking soundtrack, the inventive editing, and the incredible acting performances just makes this final sequence be more than outstanding, but something that can be sentenced in only one unique and hugely important word: Art.
And after I finished the film, my mind got out of my head, trying to understand what have I witnessed. And after a day of thought, I had to go to watch it again, and again, and it just becomes better and better as I had noticed the little details that makes the movie's storytelling so much stronger.
And the reason for it being so much rewatchable... is probably because of everything it has to offer. And it offers what very few movies offer, a life-changing experience that will definitly go down as being not only one of the best movies of all time, but also as one of the best pieces of art that you can find in this ugly and beautiful little big ball we call "Earth".
And I want to close this review by asking a question: What is your favorite movie and why? Let me know your thoughts.