Whiplash follows the journey of a young jazz musician with a passion for drumming and dreams of greatness. Andrew Neiman (Teller) is a determined 19-year-old student. His rigid music teacher, Terence Fletcher (Simmons, who won the Academy Award® for Supporting Actor), sees Andrew’s raw talent but will accept nothing less than perfection.
Special features include commentary with Writer/Director Damien Chazelle and J.K. Simmons; the featurette Timekeepers (HD 42:56), in which famous drummers discus their craft and passion; the Whiplash original short film with optional commentary (HD 17:56); deleted scenes (HD 01:30); An Evening at the Toronto International Film Festival with Miles Teller, Simmons, and Chazelle (HD 07:50); the theatrical trailer; upfront previews; and an UltraViolet digital copy.
The 2.40:1 1080p AVC picture’s Arri Alexa digital imagery exhibits a filmic raw appearance, which complements the rawness of the story’s abusive telling. The color palette is hued with an orange and yellowish push in numerous scenes and is undersaturated in others. Fleshtones are thus inconsistent and often unnaturally reddish. Contrast is often stylized with undefined shadows and blacks. Resolution is generally soft, though, facial features and object texture during close-ups are revealing, such as beads of sweat and drops of blood, as well as drum kit intricacies. Contrast is decent but blacks, at times, tend to be a bit undersaturated. The picture plays as a low-budget production, but the imagery succeeds in displaying raw and dramatic intensity, which is the story focus of the young character’s ascension to greatness. Whiplash won the Academy Award® for Film Editing.
The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is effectively produced and well recorded. The focus is on the music, especially the drumming and the student lab jazz orchestra. Neiman’s drumming proficiency progresses as the story unfolds, and when not the focus, there are occasional interludes of band and drums, which is effectively lifelike. Of course, the story’s intensity is also delivered through the abusive dialogue, which is well integrated spatially. Surround envelopment and ambiance occurs when there is music, but otherwise, monaural is the focus. Teller does a convincing job playing a developing jazz drummer, but no doubt the real drummer during the interludes, close-ups, and the finale is the talent that is exhilarating. Unfortunately, the real drummer’s performance on the soundtrack is not credited. Whiplash won the Academy Award for Sound Mixing.