The Iron Claw | Review by: Benjamin Garrett
The Iron Claw will throw you against the ropes and slam you down on the mat. It will break you emotionally. The tragic true story of the Von Erich family is not easy to stomach, but director Sean Durkin approaches it carefully with an empathetic eye.
If this weren’t a true story, it would seem impossible to believe one family experienced so much loss. The film doesn’t shy away from the toxic obsession with fame and victory that plagued the Von Erich’s, drawing due attention to the root of that poisonous mindset - Fritz Von Erich. Although the story is mostly centred around Kevin (Efron), Durkin ensures we spend enough time getting to know each of the Von Erich brothers. This is especially important, because it highlights the love these boys had for each other. Even with their father constantly cutting them down with emotional and physical abuse, their bond was unbreakable.
The performances across the board are phenomenal, but Efron completely shattered my expectations. It’s a quietly devastating performance that moved me to tears. He captures every bit of pain - both physical and emotional, in what is by far the best performance of his career, and one of my favourites of the year. Although the other brothers don’t get as much screen time, they are brought to life through tremendous supporting performances. Also, Holt McCallany will have you absolutely despising Fritz with his stellar portrayal of such a selfish and cold person.
So much of this story is wisely and tastefully told through the lead up and aftermath of tragedy. Instead of showing us the devastating events that tore the Von Erich’s apart, we’re given a look at what caused them, and how the family processed them. Durkin has a keen eye for detail, but understands what needs to be shown, and why restraint can be a far more powerful storytelling tool. The way these pivotal moments are shot and edited is both respectful and moving.
The Iron Claw is a haunting look at a family stricken with unbelievable tragedy. Exceptional direction, editing and storytelling are further elevated by an outstanding ensemble, led by Zac Efron’s Oscar worthy performance.