Sundance review: ‘Whiplash’
Published: January 17, 2014 09:07AM
Updated: January 17, 2014 09:58AM
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A young drummer (Miles Teller, left) and a hard-driving teacher (J.K. Simmons) are engaged in a battle of wills in "Whiplash." Courtesy Sundance Institute

“Whiplash”

U.S. Dramatic

*** 1/2 (three and a half stars)

In this intense music-themed drama, director-writer Damien Chazelle constructs a fearsome duet between his lead characters: A talented and ambitious college drummer, Andy (Miles Teller), and the hard-driving conductor, Dr. Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), who hurls insults and plays mind games to drive him to the brink of insanity. Chazelle writes acid-drenched dialogue, and hands Simmons a role he tears into harder than anything he’s done since the prison drama “Oz.” Teller gives as good as he gets, and the pair riff sharply in an ever-rising series of harrowing encounters that reveal how far Andy will go to be the best.

-- Sean P. Means

“Whiplash” screens again Friday at 9 a.m. at the Eccles Theatre, Park City; Friday at 6 p.m. at the Sundance Screening Room at the Sundance resort; Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City; Wednesday at 11:30 p.m. at The MARC, Park City; Thursday at 11:30 p.m. at the Prospector Square Theatre, Park City; and Friday, Jan. 24, at 3:30 p.m. at Peerys Egyptian Theater, Ogden.