Bleed for This
Bleed for This is an adrenaline jab of cinematography, a biopic reweaving the career of Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller), an enigmatic boxer who conquered three weight divisions. Director Ben Younger taps into the familiar formula of the boxing comeback with some exhilarating results, which, on balance, excuse his reliance on cinematic cliché. After all, Pazienza really did bounce back from a snapped neck to become the junior middleweight champion.
Through the binary opposition of chance and fate, Younger allows viewers to explore the protagonist’s battle for agency. The mise-en-scène of the golden cross is heavy handed – it’s in the film’s opening shot – and, significantly, the Pazienzas also hail from Providence. In terms of the script, faith comes to be identified through Louise Pazienza’s (Katey Sagal) devout Christianity, whereas chance is championed in Vinny’s casino scenes. His trainer Keven Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) tries to curb his gambling nature and their personalities clash and gel quite humorously.
Vinny refuses to undergo an anaesthetic when he gets his halo removed. He is unable to relinquish control and would sooner endure the pain than give up. This, in essence, sums up the whole movie. During this scene, the pace decelerates to torturing effect and viewers can’t help but squirm as the bolts in his head are steadily unscrewed. The director should be credited for interspersing pulse pumping sparring scenes with the slow road back to the ring. In doing so he captures both the fast-paced highs and the monotony of recovery; however, the hero’s fall is not so protracted as to become boring.
Miles Teller portrays Vinny as a maverick; he wears his “heart on his chin” and puts in a convincing performance, showcasing his continued growth since the 2014 success that was Damien Chazelle‘s Whiplash.
The soundtrack complements Pazienza’s persona. It is cool and cocky, becoming more heightened and emotive during scenes where the protagonist has the cartilage knocked out of him. Sound is supplemented by stylised camera angles, with one particular scene, an aerial shot of the road where Vinny crashes his car, really resonating. Another example would be the shell shocked audio, time slowing after the boxer takes a hit, the screen phasing into a hospital bed.
This movie makes its audience feel complicit in both the adrenal thrills and the barbarous knock backs of professional boxing. Spectators will find themselves braying for broken bones, bodies on the canvas and spinning red-black roulette wheels.
Bleed for This is released nationwide on 2nd December 2016.
Watch the trailer for Bleed for This here: