For the audience he loved the Von Erichs and followed their exploits on TV or a few meters from the ring where they landed lethal blows, the story of one of the most important wrestlers in the USA it is reflected in their sporting exploits.
For Sean Durkin, director and screenwriter of The Warriorfilm in Italian cinemas from February 1sthowever, it is the family with its very narrow and convoluted dynamics, the knot that explains the meaning of the lives of Fritz, Kevin, Kerry, David and Mike Von Erich, professional athletes but above all men fighting against themselves and against a system as hard as steel.
In the year of Barbie and of Poor Creatures!titles that have shown the general public glimpses of a possible all-female reality, The Warriorwhich presents itself in all respects as a movies about wrestling and a family sagais another tale that shows the cracks of a society dominated by a culture in which men don’t cry but they take the blows and get back up quickly. All in one piece, or not.
The plot: the true story of the Von Erich brothers
Fritz Von Erich, born Adkisson, entrusted his children with the mission of bringing home the titles and belts that he failed to win when he was a wrestler. Raised by his father with the belief that victories and success would ward off disaster, misfortune and poverty from their home in Texas, Kerry, David, Mike And Kevin Von Erichespecially the latter, the most disciplined (played by a Zac Efron transfigured due to the very hard training he has undergone), they grow and strengthen without ever losing sight of each other, happy to risk their necks in the ring to obtain the approval of the patriarch. The only interest of the young Von Erichs, in addition to wrestling, is being together, which is why they welcome the promising Kerry into the group, whose spark burns out quickly, not before having bypassed Kevin, who was put in the corner by his father waiting for his turn .
There bad luck or a curseas Kevin thinks, begins to rage against the Von Erichs who lose David, then Mike, then Kerry, all unable to support the weight of a family (of a world?) who wants them to win at all costs. Between ghosts and hopes, it’s up to Kevin to collect the crumbs of an existence in which glory and love are the factors of a zero-sum game.
Efron, the painful face of America in the 1980s
Ambition, dispassionate love, the desperate strength of youth, religion and superstition, the silent peace of the Texas ranches, challenge and luckthe burning one fathers’ lack of affection for their childrenthe pain of a void that no effort can fill. These are the themes of The Warriora tragic epic based on a true story before which many fictional stories would not be able to stand comparison.
Filmed with often very tight shots, which let us in in the skin and desires of the charactersDurkin’s film is characterized by avery refined aesthetics which, from photography to (fake) period films, immediately transports the viewer intoAmerica of the eightiesa heart sinking for those who saw them and for those who weren’t there, to the tune of Blue Öyster Cult and those composed ad hoc based on the soft rock of the time by Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire.
It goes without saying that in such an intense story the performances are all incredible. From the less experienced, how Stanley Simons (Mike), to those who have already played interesting roles, you see Harris Dickinson (David) seen in Triangle of Sadnessup to the acclaimed Jeremy Allen White (Kerry).
Pride of place goes to Ephron, never so convincing in Kevin’s body, a very strong shell that contains a heart crushed by the grip of the iron claw (“Iron Claw”, the move created by Fritz, from which the original title comes). At thirty-six, Zac Efron found in this painful character the role that an actor gets once in a lifetime. Snubbed by the Academy, he shares with Kevin the fate of those who have to watch the show on the fringes of the spotlight, for this season at least.