This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of the audience, even if the film never quite breaks through the surface. A story of tenacious triumph in the face of seemingly impossible odds, it also offers Miles Teller a terrific against-type role as a beefy young boxer who simply won't take no for an answer. And the entire cast is just as surprising, adding textures to a movie that's a bit too straightforward for its own good.
This is the story of Vinny Pazienza (Teller), a young boxer who wins two world championships in two weight classes with the help of his father Angelo (Ciaran Hinds) and his trainer Kevin (Aaron Eckhart). Then at the top of his game, he breaks his neck in a car crash and is told he may never walk again, let alone fight. But Vinny is determined to remain the champ, so he returns to training, even though an injury could leave him permanently disabled. Kevin reluctantly agrees to train him, pushing him up into yet another weight class. And seeing the publicity possibilities, father-and-son promoters (Ted Levine and Jordan Gelber) set up a massive Vegas comeback match.
Writer-director Ben Younger shoots this with a steady authenticity, charging inexorably through the story in a way that echoes Vinny's singleminded determination. Along the way, there are strained relationships, a variety of physical and emotional obstacles, intense boxing matches and, of course, a few emotive training montage sequences. The story is so strong that the film can't help but be engaging and even rousing, even if there are very few shadings along the way. Vinny never seems to doubt himself at all, his family only barely objects to his potentially life-threatening decisions, and his opponents are clearly going down for the count.
Continue reading: Bleed For This Review
Bruce Cohen (left) and Shawn Colvin attending the New York premiere of 'Bleed For This,' hosted by Open Road with Men's Fitness, at the AMC Lincoln Square Theater in New York City, United States - Monday 14th November 2016
Writer-director David O. Russell's out-of-control filmmaking style is perfectly suited to a romantic-comedy involving mental illness, and he infuses the film with a sparky unpredictability that's echoed in the perfectly graded performances of the entire cast. Cleverly, even though most of the characters are clinically unhinged, they're all likeable and easy to identify with.
Cooper stars as Pat, who has spent eight months in a mental hospital before his mother (Weaver) comes to take him home early. His dad (De Niro) isn't so sure it's a good idea, but everyone's happy to have him home. And since he finally accepts that he's bipolar, Pat is ready to get on with life. But it's not so easy. He's prevented from reuniting with his wife because of a restraining order, so he visits mutual friends (Stiles and Ortiz) instead. And they set him up with Tiffany (Lawrence), who's psychologically damaged in her own way. Recognising similar needs, they agree to help each other.
Yes, the film has a clear rom-com premise, but the characters are so unpredictable that we are never quite sure what they'll say or do next. And it's not like Pat and Tiffany are the only unstable people here: they're just the only ones with official diagnoses. All of which gives the actors almost too much colourful material to work with. Cooper is a likeable, charming presence at the centre, eliciting our sympathy even when he does something stupid. And Lawrence delivers a full-on performance that often takes our breath away with its clever layering.
Continue reading: Silver Linings Playbook Review
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