Huffpost Entertainment

'Whiplash' Opens Sundance Film Festival With Strong Reviews

Posted: Updated:
WHIPLASH MILES TELLER
"Whiplash" star Miles Teller at the film's Sundance Film Festival premiere. | George Pimentel via Getty Images

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Miles Teller — who can be seen on screen later this month with Zac Efron in "That Awkward Moment" — took four-hour drum lessons three times a week to play the lead in "Whiplash," shown opening night at the Sundance Film Festival.

Teller plays a jazz drummer determined to succeed, whether because of or in spite of an unforgiving instructor, played by J.K. Simmons at his most intimidating (and muscular). Attending the country's most prestigious music academy, Teller's character, Andrew, aspires to be one of the greats, playing until his hands bleed. Simmons is Fletcher, a teacher prone to belittling his students in an effort to unearth their determination and will to improve.

Writer-director Damien Chazelle said he told Simmons: "Just scare us."

The 28-year-old Chazelle, whose short film of the same title and subject won an award at Sundance last year, is also a drummer who drew from personal experiences for the story.

The original film "basically helped us get in the conversation with, like, financiers and people who might want to take a risk about a movie about a drummer," Chazelle said. "Without the short, I don't know if we would be here."

Teller described the film as "a pretty intense, dramatic almost, like, thriller environment for conservatory jazz music."

As for his co-star?

"J.K. Simmons is pretty terrifying," Teller said.

Paul Reiser co-stars as Teller's loving dad — one of two movies Reiser appears in at Sundance. The other is the dark comedy "Life After Beth."

Both "Life After Beth" and "Whiplash" are candidates in the festival's U.S. dramatic competition. Winners will be announced on Jan. 25.

Sony Pictures Worldwide announced it acquired international distribution rights to "Whiplash" just after its premiere.

___

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

___

Online:

www.sundance.org/festival

Also on HuffPost:

Close
Celebrity News & Photos
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Sundance Film Fest Opens With 'Whiplash' Premiere - ABC News

Whiplash | Archives | Sundance Institute - Festival Program

First Look: Sundance Film 'Whiplash' with Miles Teller as a Drummer ...

Damien Chazelle | Amoveo

Doing whatever it takes for a spot at Sundance Film Festival ...

HamptonRoads.com: Entertainment Guide for Hampton Roads, Va.

'Whiplash' Review: J.K. Simmons Shines in Damien Chazelle's ...

Music takes on different guises at Sundance Film Festival | Reuters

Sundance Film Fest Opens With 'Whiplash' Premiere

Sundance: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquires International Rights to 'Whiplash'

Review: Miles Teller and JK Simmons in 'Whiplash' starts Sundance on a high note