By Giancarlo Domicolo
“Bleed for This” is an inspiring, but unoriginal boxing movie that follows the true story of Vinny Paz, a boxer who held world titles in multiple weight classes, through the darkest period of his life.
This film, released just three days before the 40th anniversary of “Rocky,” doesn’t do much to impress, but that isn’t to say it was a disappointing feature.
Directed by relatively unknown filmmaker, Ben Younger, “Bleed for This” is an entertaining two hours, that didn’t live up to its full potential.
It really closely followed the formula of boxing movies that came prior to it, with one small twist that was given away in its trailer, the car accident.
However, there were very positive aspects of the film that were present from early on, such as the wonderful performances by Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart, as well as the sound and art design of the film.
Teller and Eckhart both embodied their characters so well and created an incredible onscreen chemistry with one another, that it was almost hard to believe these two weren’t the real Paz and his trainer being viewed on the screen.
However, it was the sound that really stuck out for me in this film. It did an excellent job of allowing the audience to really get into Paz’s mind at crucial moments of the film, like fights or the accident. For example, in the first fight Paz is hit and instantly the sound is cut out and the only audible piece of sound is a buzz, beautifully conveying to the audience that he was hit almost unconscious, by showing them exactly what he was hearing and nothing else.
Using sound like this was very impressive and the best part of the film, aside from the acting.
The camerawork was nice but at times appeared a bit choppy, as use of a handheld camera was slightly overused. Other times the cuts seemed a bit sloppy, momentarily taking me out of the film, but every film has a couple of mistakes so this wasn’t horrible.
During the fight scenes, the choreography and shots were a bit disorienting, but this wasn’t anything to take the viewer out of the film, as these scenes were still highly entertaining and suspenseful.
The camerawork was able to redeem its few mistakes by doing an excellent job of showing the audience Paz’s sadness and loneliness in the months following his accident. Through closeups, long durations of shots and more the viewer gets to really see the depression creeping into his face, which was only made even better by Teller’s great acting skills.
This film also did a great job of recreating the time period, featuring newsreel footage of actual stories on Pazienza from that time, old cars and realistic 1980s attire. The culture of the Italian family was also captured fantastically through the glimpses of Vinny’s home life, like family dinners and the way his mother (Katey Sagal) prayed the Rosary during all of his fights.
If you enjoyed films like “Rocky,” “Creed” or “Southpaw,” you will most likely enjoy Younger’s “Bleed for This.” It isn’t anything new for the genre but it’s entertaining, especially to see the growth of a new actor like Teller. This is definitely not the best piece of cinema to come out recently, but it’s captivating enough to watch at least once.