In The Clan, director Pablo Trapero has unearthed a true story that is truly stranger than fiction. In the mid 80s, a seemingly normal middle class Argentine family, the “Clan Puccio” led by patriarch Arquimedes (Guillermo Francella), made a tidy sum of money by kidnapping members of wealthy families, collecting ransoms, then murdering the kidnapped.
Arquimedes manipulates his eldest son Alejandro (Peter Lanzani) into thinking the kidnappings are political, but it becomes increasingly clear to him that his sociopath father is succumbing to greed and anger. Alejandro also plays for Argentina’s national rugby team, adding a sports element that gives both Alejandro and the viewer reprieve from a home where the skeletons in the closet are not a metaphor.
Despite being complicit in many of these terrible acts, we are made to identify with Alejandro, who can’t escape the will of a father who makes Darth Vader look like Ward Cleaver. Guillermo Francella is excellent as the villainous Arquimedes, but with very few surviving witnesses, it’s unclear who the writers’ source was for this version of events. There were, however, plenty of witnesses for the event depicted in The Clan‘s shocking final minutes, something that anyone who sees it won’t soon forget.
The Clan is intense, gripping, and extremely well made. On-point sound design helps build tension while a playful soundtrack alleviates it using by rock and roll in a manner we’ve become accustomed to via Scorsese’s crime flicks. Argentine films have been a favourite in the Academy Awards’ foreign language category in recent years, so don’t be surprised if they recognize The Clan at next year’s ceremony.
SUN SEP 20 6:45 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 1