Miles Teller brings dedication in “Bleed for This”

Photo courtesy of Open Road Films.

While drowning in boxing clichés, Bleed for This surfaces with its true story and Miles Teller’s charisma. Based on the life of famous Rhode Island boxer Vinny Pazienza (Teller), Bleed for This is a typical sports comeback story.

Known as “The Pazmanian Devil,” Pazienza was tough, but the head-on car collision he got into isn’t the same as taking a few punches in the boxing arena. The accident resulted in a broken neck and he was told he might never walk again. But his injuries didn’t stop him from training in secrecy and returning to the ring 13 months later.

The film initially premiered at Telluride Film Festival before showing at this year’s TIFF, welcoming back director Ben Younger, who last directed Prime in 2005. Younger successfully combines comedy with intensity, thanks to a cast who proves they can manage both. Teller leads the movie with his usual charisma, while Aaron Eckhart, who plays Pazienza’s coach Kevin Rooney, is a good contrast, completing their charming chemistry. This is their second film together after Teller’s feature film debut in 2010’s Rabbit Hole.

Teller gives his all in his performance, and that dedication is what makes him an actor to watch out for. Hence, casting him as Pazienza was fitting. In the past, his work with director Damien Chazelle in Whiplash showcases how hard he’s willing to work. While the intensity of Whiplash is far more appealing than that of the boxing biopic, Teller still impresses. In preparation for Bleed For This, he transformed his body to imitate that of the heavily-built Pazienza. The boxer gave his all to what he loved, and time and time again we witness Teller do the same.

Biopics will always have some aspects that are cut out and stretched for intensity and appeal. However, it’s the boxing genre clichés that make this film tough to like at times. Despite this, Bleed for This manages to find its realism through Zachary Stuart-Pontier’s editing, cleverly interspersing real footage of Vinny Paz with scenes from the film.

Overall, the film translation of the boxing champion’s triumphant story struggles at times to show its truth. But when it does, it’s hard-hitting. Comedy and intensity intertwine while Teller impresses as Vinny Pazienza. Even though it’s a stereotypical boxing movie, at the heart of it, there’s a story of a true inspiration.

Bleed for This will be in theatres Nov. 23.