Bleed For This
Director: Ben Younger
Starring: Miles Teller & Aaron Eckhart
*Five minutes read time.
Perhaps, there is no better movie to rewatch to help deal with the COVID-19 quarantine purgatory we currently live in than the comeback boxing movie, Bleed for This. Audience and critics alike bulldozed the film when it came out, giving it a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes but Bleed for This is better now than in 2016. Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal, and Ciarán Hinds give incredible performances, and I can’t seem to find the same plot pitfalls critics do, but that is not why you should rewatch this movie. You should rewatch Bleed for This because it will make you feel better about our current pitfalls.
At its core, “Bleed for This” is the comeback story of real-life boxer Vinny Pazienza, played by the talented Miles Teller. After a tragic car accident, Vinny is confined to his family’s home with a severed spine away from the only life he has ever known, boxing. I can’t help but see the correlation between his injury storyline and the quarantine purgatory we currently live in. Perhaps a comparison isn’t fair to the real-life Vinny Pazienza, but watching movies and applying your own emotion and situation is what creates lasting feelings about a film. Our favorite movies aren’t our favorites because they are the best movies ever made; they are favorites because they mean something to us beyond the cinematic quality.
If you’ve ever been an athlete, you understand the loss of self-identity that comes with an injury. The idea of moving forward with life without what you were before (runner, boxer, basketball player, etc.) is crippling to the mind. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has blanketed this feeling to the masses. We are hurt and scared of losing the life we had before this mess. The virus came just like the car wreck that causes Vinny his injury, a tragic boom of a head-on collision. Now, we are injured and stuck at home. The question presented before us is the same one that loomed over Vinny as he laid in the hospital bed in his mother’s living room; do I accept the negative outcome presented to me, or do I work to get back to where I was?
We can sit in our homes asphyxiating in self-loathing waiting for this to end, and when it does, venture out to the world accepting the change in life we wish not to live, or we can get ourselves down to the basement and grind. Vinny knew life without boxing is no life at all. Each of us has our own “boxing” that we will lose if we don’t work to keep it; it might be your job, friendships, school, whatever. If we are to get back to what we had, we must do what we can in the basements of our minds. It is in the basement that we find our strength, power, and endurance. It is in the basement where we find ourselves.
In the film, Vinny walks down into that basement less than a week after his surgery, where they inserted a “halo” to fix his neck, and he tries to do the benchpress; he failed. He was too weak and injured to lift the bar. It took time, help from his trainer, and perseverance, but ultimately, he got in shape, fixed his neck, and went on to win another world championship. We shall do the same because life sometimes feels like a boxing movie. We need to fight to get out of this.
Some of the best movies ever produced are stories with the boxing world as the backdrop, Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby, The Fighter, Rocky, Cinderella Man, On the Waterfront, to name a few. What is the profound commonality of great boxing movies is they often have little to do with boxing. It’s the struggle and perseverance we find so compelling because they come at times when we need a great comeback story. There’s never been a better time for Bleed for This.
Rewind, rewatch and please tell me your thoughts.