Based on a true story, Pablo Trapero's The Clan explores the events surrounding the kidnappings orchestrated by the surfing shop-owning Puccio family in Argentina in the early eighties. Headed up by the quiet patriarch Arquimedes (Francella), the family took inspiration from the forced disappearances during Argentina's Junta to kidnap well-to-do children and hold the family to ransom. Although eldest son Alex (Lanzani), a popular local rugby player, is initially compliant in the snatchings he begins to have misgivings when he realises Arquimedes has no intention of returning the hostages alive…
nbsp;Although bearing little resemblance to Animal Kingdom in terms of narrative, it's the oppressive atmosphere and the family's acceptance that this is how it is where The Clan can be likened to the Australian low-key crime drama - the everyday banality of it all. The hostages are housed either in the upstairs bathroom or in the basement but life continues as normal for the family: dinner is eaten, stiff shoulders are rubbed, TV is watched, rugby is played, exams are discussed. There's a total disconnect between the crime and the family unit. The children adore their father – Alex is somewhat scared to cross him – as they openly engage in pluralistic ignorance: their kind father would never kidnap and kill someone so those screams for help from upstairs must be their imagination. While Arquimedes icy calm may dominate, it's Alex’s journey that the audience is on.
reaking a screenwriting cardinal rule – he's a passive protagonist – it’s Alex's slow realisation that this way of life can't continue that drives the slow-burning narrative. He actively ignores the wake up calls – the first murder, the meeting with his future fiancée (Koessel) and younger brother Guillermo's (Franco Masini) pleas to get away; Guillermo would go on a rugby trip with his team and never return home. Watching him close his eyes to what is happening around him becomes fascinating: life must go on and the shop front needs to be swept whether or not there's a bleeding and hooded person shackled to the bath tub. Added to that the soundtrack deliberately undercutting what’s going on with Sunny Afternoon and Just A Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody typical of the music used.
he performances are impeccable with Guillermo Francella in particular standing out. His white hair, angel eyes and cool demeanour belies the darkness going on in his head. Francella is almost stationary throughout, not even in a hurry to the getaway car when one kidnapping is botched as he takes his time in broad daylight to slowly wipe the car of his fingerprints.
t's a haunting performance and a film that will stick in the memory.
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