2016 TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL: Director Ben Younger brings “Bleed for This” to Telluride, his first film since “Prime” (2005). “Bleed” tells the inspiring true story of Vinny “Pazman” “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza (Miles Teller), a world lightweight champion boxer. Following a brutal car accident that fractures his neck, everyone in Vinny’s corner throws in the towel on his career – that is, everybody except Vinny.
While the doctors insist that he would be lucky to ever walk again, Vinny never gives up the dream of getting back to fighting. Rather than opt for spinal fusion surgery, Vinny elects to have HALO surgery, leaving the unlikely possibility that Vinny may one day return to the ring. The Providence, Rhode Island native’s determination and resolve are unmatched – and are borderline suicidal – as he is as stubborn as he is mighty. He and trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) work vigorously to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
The duo of Teller and Eckhart are absolutely fantastic from start to finish, disappearing into their roles to a point where they are barely recognizable. The two, along with the fantastic work of film editor Zachary Stuart-Pontier, carried the film to the great satisfaction of the Telluride crowd. Award nominations are definitely possible for the trio, but most likely for Eckhart (Supporting Actor), as the actor not only transforms in this role, but also gives a strong supporting turn in “Sully,” another hit at the festival.
“Bleed for This” isn’t “Creed,” or even “The Fighter,” but it is a highly entertaining, superbly-acted sports film, and is a great return to the big screen for Younger.