Based on the remarkable true story of world champion boxer Vinny ‘Paz’ Pazienza, this powerhouse drama recounts one of the most unlikely comebacks in sporting history. Miles Teller plays Paz, a native Rhode Islander who shoots to stardom after a succession of championship knockouts. At his physical peak and raking in the dollars, a near fatal car crash lands him in the hospital with a broken neck. Told he may never walk again, let alone fight, Paz sinks into depression, refusing to face up to the harsh reality of his situation. But months into the long and agonising road to recovery, the fighter makes a precarious decision to return to the gym and, unbeknownst to his friends and family, resumes work with his personal trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart). After an excruciating rehabilitation regime, one year on from the accident that nearly cost him his life, Paz confounds expectations and returns to the ring.
Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Bleed for This is a powerful testament to one man’s unflinching refusal to give up, brought vividly to life through an emotionally nuanced and physically commanding performance from the ever-impressive Teller. Quietly moving at times, the film is also aggressively confrontational, particularly during the extraordinary fight scenes which pack one hell of a punch. From Paz’s intimate moments of self-reflection to his high-octane bouts in the ring, Ben Younger’s perfectly-pitched biopic is never less than thrilling.
Michael Blyth BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL