Explicitly saying what Simmons' purpose in the film is showcases the film's main problem, an inability to be subtle. It lacks subtext, everything is just said out loud instead. It is fairly obvious from the start why Simmons is doing what he is doing, the way he is doing it. I wished there where more nuance to the protagonist, as well. I have a hard time rooting for him. Major kudos for Simmons' performance!
if this is a movie about abuse, then the message is more than questionable: the toxic relationship between Andrew and his teacher culminates in Andrew achieving "greatness" through succumbing to abuse, because "hard work" obviously implies crawling out of a fucking car crash and just getting over yourself. but it's a well-made movie, i guess.
This is a prime piece of storytelling in the best traditions. A story about fathers & sons, talent & hard work, ego and humility. The performances match the script and there is a strong dramatic tension from the outset that never relinquishes. It is not a totally 'realistic' film in that the script is so tight, there is no room for deviation, and this works in its favour. A classic chamber piece of film - jazz style.