Though it starts off innocently enough, “Whiplash” ’s trailer quickly escalates and mimics whiplash itself. Andrew (Miles Teller, “The Spectacular Now”) cuddles with his girlfriend in a diner. The mood is light as an upbeat jazz piece kicks off the start of classes at Andrew’s prestigious music school. “I wanna be great,” he tells his girlfriend.

Whiplash

B+
Sony Pictures Classic

But then comes her fateful reply: “And you’re not.” Andrew’s budding music career comes to a halt just as quickly as it was introduced. His teacher, Fletcher (J.K. Simmons, “Men, Women & Children”) accuses him of rushing the beat, and the next thing you know, he’s calling Andrew a worthless pansy ass and physically slapping him on the face.

It’s a little dramatic. Actually, it’s really dramatic, and therein lies doubt and hope simultaneously. Such fervent verbal and physical abuse seems unrealistic, and it runs the risk of hyperbole. Regardless, scenes of gut-wrenching emotional tension glimmer with promise. Director Damien Chazelle (screenwriter of “The Last Exorcism II”) voiced hopes that this would play out like a thriller, and it certainly seems that way. Teller’s acting looks incredible. His slow drum roll is interspersed with scenes of his sacrifice and hard work to improve as a musician. The drums and the shots rapidly increase pace to show his frustration and grit, and your heartbeat and excitement speed up alongside it. If the film turns out to have that the same spasmodic energy, it’ll shine.

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