Am I rushing? Or. Am. I. DRAGGING?? That scene alone floored me, but with bloodied eyes and bandaged ears I powered through a film as intense as any action movie. Any action movie.
JK Simmons as T Fletcher. A guy that would make Darth Vader cry for his mommy. And probably throw a chair at him. He's the embodiment of lean, single-minded fury and absolutism. Justice was served at the Oscars as Simmons plays him with the same uncompromising attitude his character demands; and his sinewy, wire-taut performance is what makes this so special. The film itself is a thrilling study of intense committment, passion, perfectionism, self-esteem, and ideological struggle (how far is too far?) and Miles Teller rises to the challenge with a performance worthy of the film around him. But its JK Simmons' savage attacks that define the film. It's almost like whenever the shark appears in Jaws. People get torn to shreds. And yet... perhaps my favourite scene is a quiet one; where Fletcher emotionally expounds his belief system to his humbled student / adversary, and its so resonant and clear-thinking that it completely negates all the abuse that precedes it. Another scene, where Teller angrily defends his quest for musical excellence against the mediocrity of his sport-obsessed 'friends', is golden.
So do we embrace Fletcher's ideology? If it gets results, perhaps. But then doesn't that fly in the face of society's attitudes towards bullying and psychological abuse? If it hurts people, then surely its wrong? It's powerful and emotional and you feel your sympathies and admirations weave in and out, sometimes to be rewarded and other times crushed.
The music itself is a secondary character, but even so, the drum scenes are intense. Like seeing Rocky Balboa inside the ring, these scenes are a maelstrom of crashing blood, sweat and noise that leave you in no doubt that excellence in the field is not for the faint of heart. And the final ten minutes have to be seen & heard to be believed.
Picture is immaculate, but in keeping with the subject matter its dark and colour filtered with a slightly yellow palette. It's like 300 and The Dark Knight had a baby and decided to tone the brightness down and make it even more sepia. But that's a compliment. JK Simmons lean, savage face is like a mask of golden fury and the drums, symbols and bloodied hands crash at you through the screen. Soundwise, as expected, it's a force to be reckoned with.
Blind buyers shouldn't be disappointed.