Run time: 106mins
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Miles Teller, Melissa Benoist, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser
Synopsis: Andrew Neyman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in pursuit of his aim to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory
Terence Fletcher, an instructor known equally for his teaching talents and for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, where the two form an odd relationship as the student tries to achieve greatness.
In this powerful film from writer/director Damien Chazelle, Andrew (Miles Teller) is a 19 year old student at a prestigious Manhattan music conservatory when he is spotted by Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons) a teacher with a ruthlessly brutal teaching style.
After selecting Andrew to play in the school band, Fletcher pushes the student to his limits in order to realise his full potential – at a terrible risk.
There is a deep irony here – we mostly think of jazz as a genre for freedom of expression, but here the strict Fletcher keeps a tight rein on Andrew, while pushing stories and myths of jazz heroes such as Charlie Parker being driven to the edge.
There is great tension in this film – as much as in any thriller. While Fletcher on the surface doesn’t seem a very likeable character – rather like Keating in Dead Poets Society – he remains enigmatic and charismatic in an utterly brilliant performance from Simmons.
Miles Teller inhabits the role of the student Andrew. A drummer himself since he was 15 he is reported to have blistered his hands and really drawn blood during the vigorous, frantic and unconventional jazz drumming performances.
Images courtesy of Sony Pictures