The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

Greenberg at Green Hills: Bleed for This


Anchors (Out of Four): anchor-three

There’s something satisfying about boxing movies that other sports films can’t seem to recreate. Even for people who have never seen a boxing match in their lives, who don’t know the difference between Mayweather and the Mayflower and who think George Foreman didn’t have a career before he started his line of personal grills, have a sort of visceral reaction when they watch two larger than life characters square off in the ring.

Each punch lands with the knowledge of everything our protagonist has been through. Each piece of trash talk is symbolic, so by the end of the match we know we’ve witnessed more than just a fight. “Bleed for This,” which chronicles the true comeback story of Rhode Island native Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller), easily gets the audience to that point. Although it’s a predictable story even for those who aren’t familiar with Vinny Paz, boxing movie stereotypes never seem to get hackneyed, and this movie does enough to distinguish itself and make sure it stands above cliche.

Pazienza is one of the more relatable protagonists I’ve seen recently. He has a certain arrogance and the flair of a celebrity, but these contrast with his tight-knit family and blue collar upbringing in the northeast United States. In this sense we all understand Pazienza’’s dreams for greatness and his never-give-up attitude on display throughout the film. His story is an American story, one of a small-town underdog, and although tht film stretches the truth at times, it’s nonetheless a story that audiences can connect with.

The supporting cast, particularly Aaron Eckhart as Pazienza’s washed up and drunken boxing coach Kevin Rooney, all do their part to add to the mythology. The two characters have gret chemistry, and Eckhart and Teller are a great one-two punch in terms of acting prowess. That they  perform spot on renditions of their characters’ accents and mannerisms (as shown by some well-curated newsreel footage during the credits) doesn’t hurt either.

Martin Scorsese (“The Departed,” “Goodfellas”) produced this film, and his fingerprints are all over the aesthetic. “Bleed for This” is pure northeastern Americana, from its late ‘80s milieu, to featured locations in the heart of postindustrial America like Catskill, New York, to the directorial choice to feature Pazienza’s fights against foreign adversaries. These opponents, the Frenchman Gilbert Dele and the Panamanian Roberto Duran (whose own biopic, “Hands of Stone,” premiered earlier this year) appear as trash talking villains standing in the way of “the Pazmanian Devil’s” fateful journey.

“Bleed for This” joins some recent heavy hitters in the world of boxing films, such as Jake Gylenhaal’s “Southpaw” and Michael B. Jordan’s performance in “Creed.” But while those films come off as slick productions with award-worthy cinematography, “Bleed for This” is grittier, sacrificing the extended single cuts that have dazzles audiences in recent years for choppy jumps interspersed with news footage.  Nevertheless, it works just as well.

Verdict: Anchor Down. It’s no “Raging Bull,” so it’s okay to skip if you’re not a fan of the genre, but I recommend catching this otherwise overlooked November movie if you have the chance.

Leave a comment
About the Contributor

Comments (0)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments