I would like to preface this with two things: I am not a sports fan and watching two men beat each other for fun makes me squirm. I am not into boxing or MMA, or any of these events that show just how fragile the human body is.
I recently had this discussion with two of my friends as they watched a boxing match at a pub. Their argument was that these are people in top form showing how incredible the human body is and how much it can endure. While that may be true, it is also what makes it horrifying. If people in top physical form can mutilate each other, what chance do I have?
While this may have nothing to do with the film, I found it interesting that, in seeing Bleed For This tickets available at BFI London Film Fest, I immediately bought them. The seven-pound price may have been the cincher but Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart and Katey Segal really peaked my interest.
Bleed For This tells the story of Vinny Pazienza (Teller) a champion boxer who has just gotten his career back when a disastrous car crash changes his life path.
There is a lot to unpack with this movie. Before we reach the setback there were two fights; a comeback and a training sequence. There was also a redemption story I believed was reserved for after the accident.
There are two major stories going on in this movie. The first, after his career is lost when he is destroyed by Roger Mayweather, the second, when he comes back from a horrific injury to win the match against Roberto Duran.
I am having trouble with my feelings about this film because I didn’t hate it, the performances were solid and it was an interesting story, but I definitely didn’t love it. It exists in that grey area where I would recommend it to friends just to hear their thoughts and discuss certain sections.
This is a fascinating story, and probably would work extremely well as a mini-series. Pazienza‘s life is full of ups and downs, wins and losses, and Bleed For This gets muddled in all the details. It seemed to savour the funny moments and skip past the struggle, the heartfelt moments that makes this story inspirational.
The biggest disappointment, in my mind, is the waste of Katey Segal. This fantastic actress spends the majority of the time staring at a wall of candles and crucifixes, a job she does spectacularly well, but could have passed on.
There was also a very bizarre breaking of the fourth wall where they used real footage of Pazienza fighting and tried to play it off as Teller. This was a bold move and one that confuses the point of the film even further.
The most engaging moment came during one of the fight scenes. Writer and director Ben Younger cut the sound and focused on the sound of the gloves hitting flesh. It was only for a few seconds but it was bold, brutal and beautiful. This comes in the middle of a 12 round fight, and would have been more powerful during a dramatic moment in a fight. This was another point that could have made the film spectacular if it was used to make an impact.
The relationship between Teller and Eckhart is extremely enjoyable and should have been fleshed out more. If this was the emotional center of the movie, I think both of them could be considered during awards season.
Bleed For This is about perseverance, strength and courage and mirrors the strength and fragility of the human body. It shows how one moment, one person can alter your life path but it takes determination and the right frame of mind to achieve your dreams. This is an entertaining movie that lacks a clear focus but is worth seeing – if only for the performances.