First and foremost, if you haven’t seen this incredible masterpiece than I suggest you watch it immediately. A truly underrated film starring Miles Teller and JK Simmons in his truly deserving Oscar-winning role, that has become one of my favorites in recent years. Seriously, go watch it. To understand what I’m about to talk about going forward, watch this scene from the movie, everything starts at 3:09 but feel free to watch the entire video just because.
Whiplash (2014) is one of those films that I can watch over and over and still notice something different each time. The film has many artistically beautiful scenes and some very special moments as well. For example, one being when Andrew was selected to play in Studio Band by Fletcher or Andrew stepping out of his comfort zone to ask out his crush but there was one particular scene that has confuzzled me every time I watch the film:
WHAT THE F*CK HAPPENED TO THE FOLDER????
There is not one single bit of evidence in the film that suggests what happened to the folder and any idea is pure speculation and theory. I actually love how the screenwriter and director, Damien Chazelle, uses this technique in the final version* of the film so it can leave the viewer wondering and theorizing what may have happened even when you simply just have no idea.
In this specific scene, the folder serves as an important staple for Tanner to successfully perform in the competition as he even mentions later on that he has a medical condition that requires him the need to read visual cues in order to play. In my opinion, this knocks off the theory that Tanner hid the folder because his reaction to the folder being gone is genuinely concerning as his role in Studio Band is jeopardized and he later loses his core spot in the band to Andrew. This also bumps out the other theory that Andrew hid the folder because of his reaction to the folder simply disappearing and not knowing what to do or say. Which leaves to one last person that could have had something to do with the folder:
Yes, Fletcher definitely took the folder. No one in Studio Band besides him would intentionally sabotage the band’s chance of winning that competition because they all feared Fletcher. He surely takes the folder in order to punish Tanner for being so careless. In Fletcher’s eyes, he knows that Tanner isn’t as dedicated to Studio Band seeing that he wasn’t even willing to carry around the folder for a few minutes. Therefore, he intentionally takes the folder, knowing that Tanner also doesn’t have the music memorized (because of his medical condition that he presumably already knows about) and wants to see how Andrew can handle being in this high-pressure situation. Andrew eventually KILLS IT in his role as the core drummer in the Whiplash number with the rest of the band (ironic how it’s also the name of the film?).
All and all, I strongly believe Fletcher had something to do with the folder but we as the viewer (& movie lover) will never know the real truth and that my friend, is the beauty of some damn good filmmaking.
*After doing some further research on the Internet machine, it should be noted that in the original screenplay (Damien Chazelle, you absolute genius filmmaker), it was implied that a janitor possibly took it but was eventually cut from the final version of the film. Good.