The Iron Claw | Picturehouse Recommends

Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White and Harris Dickinson star in wrestling drama The Iron Claw.

Ian Freer

31 Jan 24

Sean Durkin

Release Date
02 February


Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, Stanley Simons,
Maura Tierney, Holt Mccallany, Lily James


Running Time
132 mins

For the uninitiated, the iron claw is a wrestling technique in which a wrestler grabs his opponent's face and squeezes with all five fingers. It was the signature move of the Von Erich family, who are the centre of a new film that promises to deliver unforgettable fireworks inside and outside the ring. Let's get ready to rumble.

The Iron Claw is the true story of the inseparable Von Erich brothers who conquered and redefined the intensely competitive world of professional wrestling in the early '80s, but at a price. Many believe the family were afflicted by a terrible curse.

The compelling story toggles between triumph and tragedy, as the four brothers – Kevin (Zac Efron), Kerry (Jeremy Allen White), David (Harris Dickinson), Mike (Stanley Simons) – fight to achieve a larger-than-life immortality under the tough love of their domineering father, Fritz (Holt McCallany), a former wrestler who took the Von Erich moniker from his stage name, when he wrestled as a fictional Nazi heel or antagonist.

The film is written and directed by Sean Durkin, who broke through in 2011 with Martha Marcy May Marlene, the intense story of a woman recovering from living in a cult, and followed up with The Nest, an underrated psychological thriller about the slow death of a marriage. Both films investigate the hothouse atmospheres and complex dynamics of close-knit groups, making Durkin a perfect fit for The Iron Claw.

Kevin Von Erich represents another bold choice for Zac Efron, once again playing with his teen idol image after his role in The Paperboy and playing Ted Bundy in Netflix's Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Much has been made of the bulging physique he has amassed for the part– Von Erich was 6ft 3" and weighed 222 lbs – but expect Efron to deliver not just a physical transformation; he promises to get under the skin of the family superstar.

Filling out the Von Erich clan is a stellar supporting cast. Allen White, an Emmy-Golden Globe-SAG award winner for playing chef Carmen "Carmy" Berzatto in Disney+'s The Bear, is Kerry. Dickinson, so memorable in Triangle Of Sadness and Scrapper, adopts an American accent to play David, and relative newcomer Stanley Simons rounds out the pumped-up siblings as Mike.

The pivotal role of Fritz is played by McCallany, who's worked with the likes of David Fincher (Fight Club, TV's Mindhunter), David O. Russell (Three Kings) and Guillermo Del Toro (Nightmare Alley). Expect a powerhouse performance of a controlling man who ranks his children and can only express himself through brutality.

The sense of brotherhood that informs the story also spilled off-screen. When Allen White won the role of Kerry, Efron sent what he told GQ was a "love note" that read, "Get training, eat, keep doing what you're doing, stay hard."

For Allen White, who gained 40lbs to play the role, the character and the story has a resonance that transcends the ring. "All great drama is about family, whether it's blood or not," he told GQ. "It's about acceptance, it's about belonging and just getting away from loneliness."

With film industry bible Variety reporting that reactions to the film have included "heart-wrenching" and "far and away Sean Durkin's best movie", The Iron Claw is a film where the size of the hair and muscles is only matched by the size of the emotion.    Ian Freer

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The Iron Claw is in cinemas from 02 Feb Book Now!