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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

‘Iron Claw’ reinvigorates sports biopics genre

Film shows Sean Durkin is a director to watch.
Left+to+right%3A+Harris+Dickinson%2C+Cac+Efron%2C+Stanley+Simmons+and+Jeremy+Allen+White+in+a+scene+from+The+Iron+Claw.
Eric Chakeen from A24
Left to right: Harris Dickinson, Cac Efron, Stanley Simmons and Jeremy Allen White in a scene from “The Iron Claw.”

As 2023 drew to a close, audiences saw a theatrical release of a movie genre we have seen countless times: sports biopics. “The Iron Claw” tells the true story of the Von Erich family.  

Famous wrestler Fritz Von Erich wants his four sons, Mike, Chris, Kerry and David, to enter the professional wrestling realm and do what he never could: win a championship title. The film documents his sons’ battles with the immense pressure to win the championship as they balance their sport and sanity.  

“The Iron Claw” was directed by Sean Durkin, a Canadian director with only a few movies. Despite his lack of notoriety, this movie serves as an exhibition of his directing abilities.  

It’s obvious that Durkin wanted to make the film a story about family, loyalty, passion and love that would sit with audiences even days after watching. He succeeded, as he went on to create one of the best sports biopics of the decade. 

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The film stars Zac Efron, who rose to fame from Disney’s “High School Musical” franchise. After being an icon from many people’s childhoods, it’s easy to view him as Troy Bolton, the hot commodity basketball player turned singer who stole our hearts over a decade ago. But with his role as Kevin Von Erich, we see him fulfill his true potential.  

We see not only maturity and emotional intelligence in Efron’s performance but also the lengths he is willing to go as an actor. In preparation for this role, Efron underwent a physical transformation that would require months of training to embody the wrestler’s physique.

He was not the only performer that stood out. Lily James does an excellent job portraying Kevin’s wife as she struggles to raise a family amidst the Von Erich boys’ downfall. Jeremy Allen White, Holt McCallany and Maura Tierney, to name a few, also deliver deep, notable performances.  

The actors also have the task of learning complicated wrestling choreography they must manage on top of their already challenging roles. Everything is executed realistically to keep the audience’s eyes glued to the screen. 

The movie pulls at the audience’s heartstrings with its moving story and impressive dialogue. The screenplay allows the actors to work with beautiful conversations, showing the gritty, complicated, love-filled relationships the movie explores.  

The dramatics are balanced with light-hearted elements to create the perfect combination of humor and depth. Combined with the stunning sets and lighting, these create an environment ideal for the emotional story to unfold. 

Despite the heartbreaking events of the film, some may find it was not as upsetting as the trailers made it seem. Though it is easy to leave the theater feeling touched by the story, it may be harder to feel genuinely distraught.  

Those aware of the professional wrestling family know how frequently tragedy fell upon them. Considering the nature of those events, is the movie as upsetting as it should be? Quite frankly, no. Is it still impactful, nonetheless? Yes, but the film doesn’t cut as deep as one would expect for a plotline so outlandish.  

We start to see devastation unfold almost like a pattern, making the details of the plot very predictable. This can overwhelm and disappoint viewers at the lack of intense emotional disruption and surprise. 

Nonetheless, the dynamic performances and well-written screenplay make “The Iron Claw” a moving and entertaining movie worth seeing. 

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