Here’s my problem with Whiplash (2014). It’s not that Fletcher, JK Simmons’s character, is an asshole. It’s not that Andrew, Miles Teller’s, character is a complete pussy. It’s that they are these things and the movie never gives us a reason to care. I assume that Fletcher is so adept at what he does that his results merit his behavior. I assume that Andrew wants success so badly that his desire merits his behavior. I have to assume this because the movie never tells me this is so.
I give the movie two stars because the acting, directing, and filming are excellent, but the character development is sorely lacking. They are nothing but flat portrayals of opposite ends of an extreme with no middle ground to tie the audience to them. If you want me to hate a character so much that I love him, you better give me a reason to love him. Show me something that proves Fletcher makes stars out of students. Show me something to make me sympathize with Andrew’s unflinching need for approval. I will not take it on faith that one man is so brilliant in his knowledge of music and one student is so thirsty for immortality, that one is willing to submit himself to the abusive, manipulative tendencies of the other. It’s as if Vern Schillinger, Simmons’s white supremacist character on Oz, were plopped down in some mid-level college jazz classroom. It is as absurd of a relationship as that between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. I want more than this.