The Clan

When it was first released in Argentina, Pablo Trapero’s film had the highest opening box-office of all time. The key to that success is simply that The Clan is based on one of the most shocking crimes in the country’s history, the Puccio Clan case. In 1985, the news broke that the Puccios, a well-established Catholic family with five children from San Isidro, an upper-class suburb of Buenos Aires, kidnapped and held people hostage for ransom in their own home. The film is a disturbing, impressive, and beautifully controlled interpretation of those events, with Guillermo Francella's magnificent depiction of the father, a performance for the ages.

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  • ★★★★ review by Waldo on Letterboxd

    Argentina, early 80's, this is a true story. A country trying to get to its feet after a brutal military government and an infamous war. A by product of all of that is Arquimides Puccio. He's well connected, a respected businessman, a religious man, a family man. He also has a side business. Kidnapping for ransom. He's got everyone in his family under his thumb, especially his older son. Tense, cold blooded and sometimes tragically comic. Trapero keeps getting better every time he gets behind the camera. Lots of great tracking shots and a nice rock and roll soundtrack. Has a Scorsese vibe to it. Check it out.

  • ★★★½ review by Steve G on Letterboxd

    The World Is More Than Enough 5: The Rebirth - Argentina (14/30)

    I don't know why I bother putting together a list for this festival at the outset, because I always end up having to replace half the films I have on it.

    This happened again for Argentina with me hastily placing The Clan on the list - although I can't remember what it was a replacement for now :/

    This is a crime film based on the true story of a middle class Buenos Aires family which turned to kidnapping after the patriarch is laid off from his intelligence job when the Falklands War ends. It's obviously quite a different set-up to your average kidnap drama to have a pretty normal-looking suburban family doing the crimes, and it does provide for an unusual backdrop. Seeing the victims slung in the basement of their family home while they continue to live (more or less) normal lives upstairs was quite a bit different to say the very least.

    For me, there was something slightly missing here and I think it's where the family decides they're going to take this drastic measure! We see Guillermo Francella laid off from his job but we don't actually see any join between that moment and the first kidnapping they undertake. I really do think this film could have benefited from that, and it's also not really helped by the occasional disorganised timeline effect that director Pablo Trapero adopts on a couple of occasions. It just results in confusion and doesn't really add anything to the film.

    But this is still, largely, a good film. Francella's performance as the ice-cold leader of the family is terrific. Initially I struggled to buy his completely emotionless approach to it all but it made more sense to me when I realised his background and saw the complete dedication he has to protecting his family and his utter devotion to it. Cleverly, Trapero explores quite deeply how that goes too far.

    Not just in the, y'know, stealing people for money business. But in how he starts to see his eldest son, Peter Lanzani, as being a traitor when he refuses to join in with any kidnappings after the first one. It also shows how, in attempting to protect him and his family when he is apprehended, it ends up backfiring on him. A simple word from him that they are all innocent could free them but he doesn't choose that route.

    It's certainly where The Clan is at its strongest. It was also quite impressive in how uncompromising these crimes are. There's none of the usual movie kowtowing to negotiations or cosying up to the victims, and we barely get to know their victims at all. Francella really does mean business, and his steely performance reflects that superbly.

    An incident-packed ending and a strangely jaunty soundtrack add to the plenty of things that The Clan has going for it. It's not as effective as it perhaps could have been but it's still a fascinating story told with more than enough quality.

  • ★★★★ review by Chris Haydon on Letterboxd

    Intoxicating slow-burn crime drama.

    THE CLAN expertly blends the grit and gusto of 70s Scorsese with the clinical, almost surgical stillness of postmodern European cinema.

    Methodical pacing and quiet character moments brilliantly elevate tension; leading to a thunderous, slack-jawed climax.

  • ★★★½ review by Jesús Llurba on Letterboxd

    Película casi de terror gracias a la mirada y tono de voz de Guillermo Francella, que da vida al capo del Clan Puccio.

    El tratamiento de los datos es objetivo, sin tomar partido, "limitándose" a mostrar los hechos tal y como ocurrieron, con un estilo cuasi periodístico, lo que provoca que algunos personajes queden algo desdibujados.

    La historia es potente, muy potente, pero le falta algo de fuerza en la dirección para dejarnos clavados del todo en la butaca.

    Muy Estimable !

  • ★★★★ review by SeraphicWings on Letterboxd

    Thoroughly engaging, the lens keeps its focus on the family at all times, not once relying on the victims' hardships to bid emotional appeal.

    No, in El Clan, the villain is evil because he just is, motives and reasons don't matter; if anything, they would only have served as a distraction from the simplicity and pure horror of the premise.

    An ordinary man, like you and me. Your father, your teacher, your neighbour. Who just so happens to be wired that much differently.

    Without any background to even allude to a behavioural buffer or an excuse of any sort, Arquimedes Puccio takes centre stage simply as a bad man, doing bad things, willing to stop at nothing to get what he wants.

    And that is exactly why this true story becomes so effectively terrifying.

    --As a sidenote, the ending left me slack-jawed, much like Miss Violence's opening scene...

    ...if you know what I mean.

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