Bleed For This is a biopic based on the life of Vinny Pazienza, a professional boxer, played by Miles Teller. Pazienza, or as he was better known – “Paz” or “the Pazmanian Devil”, was a world champion who won several titles throughout his career. Right after winning the light middleweight world championship in 1991, Pazienza was involved in a car accident that left him with a broken neck, and against doctors’ advice he chose a Halo medical device for treatment over spinal surgery. Despite doctors informing Pazienza that he may never even walk again, he once again defied doctors’ orders of rest and recovery and instead continued to train. So in actuality this is a story about hardship, dedication, family ties, and a dreadfully significant ego. Considering this précis, you would expect the film to be filled with drama, tear-jerking moments, and maybe a few noteworthy fights given that this story is known to many as one of the greatest comebacks in boxing history. Instead we are left with a mediocre screenplay, several useless characters, and the absolute minimal of actual boxing scenes.
There were, however, a couple of standout performances; Aaron Eckhart has always been a good actor, but he never really caught my attention, yet his acting as Kevin Rooney somehow made me aware of him. He excelled in the role. Miles Teller’s performance was also a pleasant surprise, especially as I went into the film using his reputation as an indicator for his talent. Yes many will say his performance was comfortable, but it was also charming and he made the character likeable. I think I like Teller as an actor now? I will grudgingly commend the script here, because without all the blithe humour and the jocular nature of the character, he would not have this likeability factor and the film may have been quite lacklustre.
I do think it is a little unfair to say the script was completely insipid; it is well-written for the protagonists of this film, Pazienza and Rooney, but for any of the other characters it is deficient of any substance. Although I was impelled to root for the Pazmanian Devil, because of his comedic nature, perseverance, and purely raw passion for boxing, I cannot recollect any significant contributions that other characters made to the story. I think his relationship with his father, played by Ciarán Hinds, could have incited more heart-rending moments; although to be fair, I did audibly “aww” when his father gave him a bath after the accident. His mother’s, played by Katey Segal, change of heart on watching her son fight should have elicited some form of emotion, but honestly her character was completely immaterial. The problem I have with the writing is the potential that was wasted; I am ordinarily predisposed to bawling at any minuscule indication of love or devotion, and even though the story and the film were heart-warming, I was left dry-eyed throughout this film.
I have to take a moment to praise the director, Ben Younger, for the car accident scene because it was beautifully shot. Even though I knew it was coming, it was still disconcerting, and that is a sign of good direction. The silence was unsettling. I will again concede and praise the script once more, because I loved the paradox that although Pazienza’s neck was broken, his sense of humour and ego were intact.
Finally, to all screenwriters/directors/whoever decides this, please stop including conversations in foreign languages without subtitles, I zone out for a good few minutes trying to figure out what they said – even if it is irrelevant. It really irks me. Nonetheless, despite the shortcomings, I still liked the film overall and would rate it 6 /10 – a probable would-recommend.
BLEED FOR THIS will be released in UK cinemas on December 2nd
Article By: Shanzay Usama