Rated R
116 Minutes
Released November 18th

Bleed for This is on the surface the story of a boxer, Vinny Pazienza It is not simply a boxing movie. To paraphrase Aaron Eckardt’s words in the post-screening Q&A, this is a story about perseverance and resilience…about not giving up on a dream.

This is a low budget movie, shot for $6 million. The shoot lasted just 24 days, in and around Providence RI, with almost no rehearsal and very few takes for each scene. The fight scenes were shot in Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence; and the scenes of Vinny’s family were all shot in one house. The cast had their dressing rooms in the house, so according to Eckardt, they all felt as if they had taken on the life of Vinny’s family in their cramped quarters. That detail added with great realism to the film. All the characters in the movie come to life realistically.

Pazienza loved boxing and truly made an art of it. The sport was his form of expression. It was also the basis of his life. Miles Teller as Pazienza is able to communicate this – he has the frenetic energy to bring to life this extraordinary real life character.

Rhode Islanders love Pazienza so much that the filmmakers were able to get 2000 volunteers to serve as extras for the fight scenes, giving their time for 12-hour days. He is a statewide hero.

The actors do a superb job – Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal and Ciaran Hinds specifically. Aaron so embodies the freeform high energy of flawed trainer Kevin Rooney that he seems to have become the character. Katey Sagal as Pazienza’s mother, is practically unrecognizable, as she manifests a character so different from the roles she is known for. She proves herself to be really a very fine actress here. Irish actor Ciaran Hinds also seems to perfectly fit the character of Vinny’s Rhode Islander/Italian Dad. Eckhart likes to box as a personal workout, so relished the chance to research his role by working with Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, picking up his mannerisms and lingo.

Some aspects of the story are handled very well.   Original TV newscasts about Vinny and period shots of the Providence area and Las Vegas add realism. Juxtapositions of scenes, for example Vinny’s view of a hospital room, into his mother prayer at the religious shrine she has set up in a foyer of her home, provide emotional impact. In all, if the movie had about 20 minutes less narrative it would be even more gripping. All in all, Bleed for This is a wonderful story about an exceptional young man who overcame huge odds to be the best that he could be at what he loved doing.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com