Bhagawati reviews a film by Damien Chazelle, starring J.K. Simmons (who just won this year’s Oscar for Best Supporting Actor) and Miles Teller.
This compelling movie kept me on my toes with unrelenting suspense as to what would happen next. Now don’t think this is a thriller of the usual genre with murders galore, not so! This is about Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller), an ambitious first year jazz student who is obsessed with drumming and comes to the attention of music teacher and conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) who accepts Andrew into his studio band.
Bent on impressing his teacher, Andrew practices hard and like a puppy eagerly looks for the slightest sign of approval by Fletcher. And here comes the twist – rather than approving of his drumming, Fletcher pushes Andrew to unheard of extremes and creates almost Gurdjieff-like situations which some might see as abusive. He relentlessly mocks and insults him, throws things at him, kicks him out of class and only very occasionally signals something which Andrew feels hopeful about. In turn, the next encounter between the two is another push and shove. Fletcher is hard on all other students as well yet Andrew is the one who doesn’t just meekly accept the teacher’s tantrums.
The drumming scenes are absolutely amazing and enthralling; the sounds entering my body made it involuntary twitch by the impact. I was almost breathlessly waiting for the moment when the drummer would become the music!
I don’t wish to spill the entire plot as it is of marvellous intensity; when it came to the finale it left me feeling almost exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.
The movie was directed and written by Damien Chazelle and won also an Oscar each for Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing.