The Iron Claw (Sean Durkin, 2023, USA)

The Iron Claw is the latest film from director Sean Durkin. Durkin burst onto the indie film scene in 2014 with his acclaimed debut Martha Marcy May Marlene. After a period in television, he returned during the pandemic with the domestic drama The Nest, a film that went largely underseen. The Iron Claw marks his most commercial effort to date, as well as one of the most commercial efforts from A24, the studio that is rapidly attempting to expand its reach beyond the arthouse circuit. 

The Iron Claw tells the story of the Von Erich family, the famous Texas wrestling family that rose to prominence during the 1970s and 1980s. First, it should be said that while there have been great films about pro wrestling (Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler comes to mind), The Iron Claw is certainly going to be included in the canon of the top pro wrestling films of all time. Durkin has a respect and familiarity for the sport, which shows up on screen in his attention to detail. This is a film to watch to soak in the period details - the sun-drenched Texas summers and the atmosphere of the crowd.

The central challenge of the film is that (for those in the know) the inevitable tragic trajectory of the Von Erich family is not a surprise. That said, The Iron Claw is probably the best cinematic treatment there could be of the subject matter. The performances are great, even if the film loses some dramatic momentum, particularly as it trudges toward its inevitable finale. For those seeking a solid sports melodrama with a lot of male emotions, The Iron Claw is great. Whether it has much to say beyond that is a subject for debate, but wrestling fans most likely will appreciate the film. 



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