I was on the fence about this movie going in. While it got very good reviews, I was leary of the intensity and abuse of the teacher played by J. K. Simmons. But I think it works pretty well. The guy has some serious flaws as he pushes and manipulates his students, but his actions are also portrayed as flaws, not as a necessary ingredient to achieve greatness. There are certainly a lot of sacrifices anyone has to make to perform at the highest level, whether it is Olympic hopefuls putting aside their entire childhoods to practice or spelling bee champions memorizing the dictionary. This is that same story about an aspiring jazz drummer. It's a harsh world with its own rewards. Whiplash does a good job of showing one version of that life with two strong characters of the driven drummer and his demanding teacher. The movie doesn't waste a lot of time getting to that relationship and maintains interest throughout with some twists and turns that I didn't expect. While neither of the main characters is a great guy, the story of the two is quite good and the performances are excellent.