I braced myself for this film, but I needn’t have. It’s fascinating throughout. Of course JK Simmons carries it. He’s really the lead. His boy protege comes off as a non-entity. In fact, his role as a morally neutral ‘everyman’ succeeds only in leaving him uninteresting, if not unhuman. He is surrounded, meanwhile by such singularly flat characters, all of which share the single dimension of being thoroughly dominated by Simmons’ overbearing character – so much so, that they are interchangeable. It’s as though Erik Erikson directed under the assumption that high school kids don’t yet experience the full range of emotions that might lend them enough depth to be distinct. It’s a film about personality, and it succeeds with the band leader, but only at the expense of everyone else. Thank goodness the band leader was enough to create engagement for 107 minutes. This film opened the Sundance Film Festival in 2014, and has a 95% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes.