Bleed for This
In a post-Rocky world, what does it mean to make an uplifting boxing movie? One tack is to enlist avant garde musician Julia Holter to score your movie. That’s exactly what director Ben Younger and the producers of Bleed for This did for their pugilist plot. And, since movies take so much of their tone from the score, her involvement was key. Although Bleed for This is a movie about heart, about a comeback a boxer makes after being in a horrible accident, it’s toned down and without too many clichés or Oscar clips. Thanks to the prosthetic nose and his acting chops, Miles Teller, who stars as lightweight boxer Vinny Pazienza, disappears into his role. Likewise, by gaining a paunch, shaving off some of his hair, and hunching, Aaron Eckhart is unrecognizable—and effective—as Pazienza’s alcoholic trainer. Besides being graphic (it’s rated-R), Bleed for This shades its main characters enough so that they aren’t saints, but not too much so that the movie loses its optimistic, you-can-do-anything-you-set-your-mind-to sensibility, for which Teller is the perfect spokeperson, and becomes a Raging Bull. The boxing, and even some of the training, scenes are electrifying. One of us thought the middle was on the boring side; the other one cheered.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White