Prime Video movie of the day: Damien Chazelle's Whiplash is so intense, you might forget to breathe

Terence watches Andrew play the drums in 2014's Whiplash movie
Whiplash is an agonizing watch at times, but it deserves all of the recognition it earned. (Image credit: Netflix)
Movie of the day

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On paper, Whiplash (now available to stream on Prime Video) sounds – if you pardon the music-based pun – terrible. On the screen, though it's an astonishing piece of theatrical melodrama. Imagine Full Metal Jacket but, instead of Vietnam, the battleground here is jazz. Or, how about One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest set in a music school, rather than a hospital. 

Wait, where are you going? Come back! Let me explain.

Whiplash is a deceptively simple story: it tells the tale of Andrew (Miles Teller), a young student drummer who's picked for the best band in the music school, and the teacher who wants him to be excellent. But that teacher is Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons (Invincible, the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man  movie trilogy) – and Fletcher is more of a dread- and fear-inducing drill sergeant than any kind of tutor. All that matters to Fletcher is the music and, if getting it right means tearing his pupil apart then, well, that's the price of perfection.

Is Whiplash worth watching on Prime Video?

Fletcher teaches his students in 2014's Whiplash movie

Whiplash will give you, well, emotional and psychological whiplash. (Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Definitely. Here's GQ, whose reviewer simply tells you to "go and see Whiplash. It's as simple as that. Whiplash is incredible. I really can't believe how good Whiplash is. I can't stop telling people about Whiplash."

That's largely because of the vitriolic, harsh, but incredibly talented performance that Simmons delivers. Indeed, he's One Flew Over...'s Nurse Ratched with a conductor's baton, with The New Yorker describing his display as thus: "Simmons is as taut as piano wire, twanging with impatience and intolerance... What lends verve to Damien Chazelle’s film is not so much the lure of jazz as the power struggle between master and pupil, plus a rare honesty about the costs of the craze for excellence."

Empire was similarly effusive in its praise, with its scribe opining: "In the tradition of great thrillers it has an ordinary man trying to best a much trickier foe, and like great sports movies it has a rookie intent on winning everything. It just finds those things in a place nobody usually looks". Sure, the plot sounds pretty dull but, adds Empire's reviewer: "watch the film and it will spit you out elated, exhausted and cheering for an encore."

Need even more evidence that Whiplash is unmissable on one of the world's best streaming services? Look no further than its critical and audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes, both of which sit at a more than healthy 94%. If that's not proof enough that it's a stunning piece of cinema – one that deserves a spot on our best Prime Video movies list, too – I don't know what is.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.