Zac Efron and ensemble in The Iron Claw film

Brotherly Love, Wrestling Nostalgia on Display in “Iron Claw” Drama

Wrapped in the ring-slinging theatrics of the wrestling world in its heyday, Sean Durkin’s biographical sports drama The Iron Claw (B) is ultimately a moving meditation on brotherhood. Chronicling the true story of the Von Erich family wrestlers, all bred to be polite, strong warriors by their domineering father (a fierce performance by Holt McCallany), an ensemble including the very committed troupe of Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White and Harris Dickinson experiences the highs and lows of the dangerous sport. Efron gets maximum screen time and, aside from his brotherly bonding, is most engaging opposite Lily James as the woman who tries to draw him out of his single-minded shell. The movie never rises to heights of astonishing creativity or breakthrough filmmaking craft, but you will believe in the hard-scrabble tale of this family, and Durkin extracts earned emotional beats out of the brothers’ cursed existence. As the film depicts small-town Texas origins colliding with the hefty machinations of a federation in the making, those who have grown up watching this particular form of glam-macho entertainment will find its story engaging and its happenings nostalgic. Credit Efron in particular for drawing audiences into a tale of hometown boys lured into a larger than life scenario, reminiscent of tragic tales like The Outsiders or Boogie Nights. Even though the actors are ostensibly faking it, you will see their reality clearly. 

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