Whiplash

Part of what makes Whiplash so interesting is the uneasiness it imparts. It’s inspiring to watch young jazz drummer Andrew (Miles Teller) push himself to new heights, but also disturbing to see the path he takes to get there.

Ultimately, we’re left to wonder if all the abuse he suffered at the hands of Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) was worth it. And while all viewers will have to determine that for themselves, writer-director Damien Chazelle, for one, has a pretty clear idea of what happened next. Hit the jump to read Chazelle’s comments on the Whiplash ending. (Spoilers follow, obviously.) 

If you saw Whiplash, you’ll recall the final scene in which Fletcher deliberately sabotages Andrew’s fledgling career by giving him the wrong music for a concert. Instead of taking that affront lying down, however, Andrew turns it into an opportunity, taking the lead and showing off his talents. Eventually, Fletcher comes around and starts helping him. It’s a thrilling moment, and a big victory for our protagonist.

However, Chazelle says he doesn’t necessarily see a happy end for Andrew after that. Here’s a snippet from his conversation with Screen Crush:

Where do you think these two go after this movie ends? They had a moment at the end of the film, but I feel these two will always hate each other.

I think so. I think it’s definitely a fleeting thing. I think there’s a certain amount of damage that will always have been done. Fletcher will always think he won and Andrew will be a sad, empty shell of a person and will die in his 30s of a drug overdose. I have a very dark view of where it goes.

That should have been a postscript at the end of the movie, “And at 30, he dies of a drug overdose.”

That would be great, right before the credits, “Oh, by the way.” It’s a post credit thing, like the Marvel movies. It’s his funeral.

And Fletcher is there. He gives the eulogy.

“That ungrateful fucking brat.”

Chazelle is clearly joking about the postscript and the post-credits funeral scene, but he seems to be serious about the dark ending. It’s a bit startling since his movie goes out on a high note, and since we’re more or less conditioned to expect happy endings from films like this.

On the other hand, though, such an unhappy development would fit with Chazelle’s clear-eyed approach. Unlike a lot of other underdog-makes-good stories, Whiplash is unflinching about the sacrifices Andrew makes to get to the top, and not at all comfortable with the tradeoff. It absolutely seems plausible that he’d crash and burn at a young age.

Do you like Chazelle’s imagined Whiplash epilogue, or do you think it goes too dark?

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