Monday, March 06, 2017

"Bleed for This": one-paragraph review

Boxing movies follow a standard arc, and "Bleed for This," despite its twist (which is given away in the preview trailers), is no exception. This 2016 drama, based on the true story of Vinny Pazienza, takes us from Pazienza's embarrassing 1988 defeat at the hands of Roger Mayweather to his eventual victory-by-decision in 1995 against champion Roberto Durán. The movie stars Miles Teller as Vinny, Ciarán Hinds as Vinny's father Angelo, Katey Sagal as Vinny's mother Louise, and an initially unrecognizable Aaron Eckhart as Vinny's trainer Kevin Rooney, who also trained Mike Tyson for a time. Like "The Fighter," "Bleed for This" gives us the ethnic angle, showing us life in an Italian-American family in Rhode Island. The story's twist is that Vinny Paz is involved in a car accident that almost leaves him paralyzed for life. He wears a halo—a sort of neck brace that looks like a medieval torture device—for around six months, but this doesn't stop Vinny from beginning to train again. The movie is a testament to courage and the single-minded pursuit of a goal; when everyone around Vinny is convinced he'll never box again, Vinny continues to train, and he eventually faces Durán. The actors try hard with their New England accents; Miles Teller is fairly convincing, but Ciarán Hinds and Aaron Eckhart are sometimes hard to listen to. The plot is predictable from start to finish, so this isn't the sort of thing you watch because you're in suspense about the outcome. In films like this, it's not the goal that matters so much as the journey. Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart have great chemistry together as boxer and trainer; it's amusing to realize that Teller went through hell to gain a boxer's physique while Eckhart—normally slim and suave—must have gone through his own sort of hell to appear paunchy and alcoholic. Watch "Bleed for This" because it's a lesson in grit, but not because it'll surprise you in any sense.

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