Based upon a true story, The Clan is the incredible tale of an Argentine family – the Puccios – which, in the early 1980s, made its living from kidnapping and murder.
They live in a typical family home in a traditional neighbourhood. To the outside world a devoted husband and father, Arquimedes (Guillermo Francella), the patriarch, heads and plans the operations. Alejandro (Peter Lanzani), his eldest son, is a star rugby player at a prestigious local club and a member of the national team. Supposedly a picture of the perfect gentleman, Alejandro gives in to his father’s will and identifies possible candidates for kidnapping, who are chained up and held in the basement of the family home. Alejandro’s popularity shields him from suspicion. To varying degrees, all members of the Puccio family – father and mother, three sons and two daughters – are accomplices in this dreadful venture as they live off the benefits of the large ransoms paid by victim’s families. All this takes place during the final years of the Argentine military dictatorship and the start of the return to democracy.
Written and directed by Pablo Trapero, the film captures the look and feel of the times magnificently. Further than that, the extent of the corruption that existed is staggering – appearing to be all pervasive for a considerable period. It is simply hard to fathom that the Puccios could get away with their nefarious acts for as long as they did.
What immediately strikes you is the ruthlessness, the single-minded focus, of Arquimedes, who manipulates his family to fall into line. His expression rarely changes as he goes about his business of extortion, while professing a deep-seated love for his family. As for Alejandro, although he is most uncomfortable with some of the developments, he doesn’t rebel, he doesn’t run away. Clearly the noose is tightening around the family and it is just a question of when they will be caught. Mother Epifania (Lili Popovich) is an interesting one. She is a teacher, a dutiful wife who turns a blind eye to the goings on.
My biggest criticism concerns the subtitles – many of them white on a white background, so on occasions they all but disappeared. I found that very frustrating because I was so caught up in the narrative.
Rated MA, The Clan is an intriguing crime drama that scores a 7½ out of 10.
Director: Pablo Trapero
Cast: Guillermo Francella, Peter Lanzani, Lili Popovich
Release Date: 4 August 2016
Rating: MA 15+
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television