Based on a true story, The Clan tells the chilling tale of the Puccio family. A seemingly average, middle-class Argentinian family, the Puccios were nothing of the sort. Patriarch Arquímedes (Guillermo Francella) is drawn to a life of crime after losing his job. He and his cohorts kidnap members of wealthy families and demand high ransoms in exchange for their safe return. Alejandro (Peter Lanzani), the Puccio’s eldest son and star rugby player, gets roped into his father’s crime and assists in many of the kidnappings. When Arquímedes’ secret life of crime is threatened, kidnapping turns to murder and the stakes become higher.
Set in the newly democratized Argentina of the 1980s, the film transports the viewer to the location. One of The Clan’s great strengths was the overall aesthetic -- costuming, hairstyling, locations…every aspect of the film’s look screamed ‘80s. Use of music was undoubtedly another strength of the film. American jazz and swing music is utilized throughout, often during kidnapping and beating scenes. This juxtaposition adds to the eerie nonchalance with which these crimes were committed - the fact that the plot is based on true events also adds to how disturbing the story is as a whole.
The family dynamic in The Clan adds an interesting dimension to a relatively typical crime story. Arquímedes is reminiscent of a Walter White-type character: an unassuming, but still murderous criminal. Everything he does, he does for money and for his family -- at least that’s what he tells himself. Alejandro becomes involved in his father’s crime, seeking further approval even though he’s a celebrated player of the National Rugby Team. Once the wrongdoing reaches murder, Alejandro becomes more hesitant to help his father. Manipulative as one would expect, Arquímedes guilts his son into continuing on. The father-son strife would be quite normal, if not for the criminal aspect. A son seeking his father’s approval again and again…certainly not a new concept, but nonetheless noteworthy in this film.
Overall, The Clan was a run-of-the-mill twisted crime story -- its conventionality was perhaps its weakest quality. It was, however, remarkably well produced and well acted. Francella’s performance was a standout, giving a look into the mind of a father warped by crime. I plan to learn more about Argentinian film, as The Clan was highly impressive - hopefully, other films from the country are just as excellent. For foreign film buffs, give this film a watch and cross Argentina off your ‘places-from-which-to-watch’ list. For film buffs in general, The Clan is certainly worth your time.