Matt’s review published on Letterboxd:
This movie somehow became even better with the second viewing. It just surpassed Grand Budapest Hotel.
Mind you, I was already in a great vibe having seen Citizenfour before this, so *maybe* I'm just being extremely elated but I managed to love this one again.
Miles Teller (inspirational and extremely relatable) is Andrew, a music academy student being trained under the most respected yet feared teacher, Mr. Fletcher (J.K. Simmons; an absolutely terrifying force of nature). Fletcher insists on pushing Andrew beyond his limits (albeit with some unconventional tactics) as Andrew allows the drive and hunger to succeed consume him, as much as he may appear to not want.
I believe that most people have been an Andrew at some point in their life. Whether it was from a teacher, a family member or someone else. Someone pushing you to not just become YOUR best, but THE best. Someone with great intentions, but doesn't realize they're doing more harm than good, slowly sucking away the humanity and soul from the pupil.
"There are no two words in the English language more harmful than 'good job'."
Much like Mr. Fletcher and Andrew, this movie refuses to accept doing a "good job". The intensity displayed in the sessions and performances becomes reflected in the film. Conversations that go beyond a "breaking point", drumsets smashed and thrown, heads and hands sweaty and bloodied. A tense, steady hand shooting everything that feels like it might snap at any minute, performances with the sting and vigor of a viper. All for the sake of perfecting the craft, of course.
I've been fortunate enough to have been part of an awesome audience both times. That stunned, still silence followed by a booming standing ovation displays the flawless execution of the ending. That feeling that it jumped right off the screen in front of the audience and slashed them dead and cold to their seats before relieving them with the sensation of the aftershock. That's whiplash.
(Sidenote: I think this could work rather well as a play.)