The Clan

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday March 18, 2016

Peter Lanzani and Guillermo Francella star in 'The Clan'
Peter Lanzani and Guillermo Francella star in 'The Clan'  

Pablo Trapero's film "The Clan" ("El Clan") flashes back to Argentina in 1983, just after the end of a brutal military dictatorship. The old guard -- the men who once made their living enforcing the dictatorship's reign of terror -- are in need of employment, and they're convinced that law and order will never take root nor democracy long endure. While they await the return of the good old bad old days, they maintain a loose network and turn to freelance activities like kidnapping to keep cash in their pockets.

One practitioner of the art of abduction is a former intelligence officer named Arquímedes Puccio (Guillermo Francella) who, one surmises, learned the ropes while carrying out the disappearances of the earlier government's so-called "dirty war." Puccio enlists his older sons in his activities, but wife Epifanía (Lili Popovich) is an accomplice and the rest of the kids know the score: They can't help but know, since, after all, Puccio brings his victims home and stashes them in the basement while waiting for their terrified families to cough up huge ransom payments (in U.S. hundred-dollar bills, no less).

It's middle son Alejandro (Peter Lanzani) who is most implicated in his father's criminal dealings; Alejandro, a charming young man and admired rugby player, is able to befriend and lure the sorts of wealthy people his father preys on. Problematically, even though the families pay up, the abductees never make it home alive; this results in heat on the government and the police to identify and arrest the culprits, but it also strains relations between father and son. When cash is no longer sufficient to ensure Alejandro's cooperation, Puccio resorts to the kind of mind games you can easily envision an operative of a repressive regime to have mastered as part of his former job. Then two factors, both female, enter the equation: Alejandro's fiancee, Mónica (Stefanía Koessl), and an elderly woman whose family cannot, or will not, pay up to see her released by her abductors,

Even as tension and suspense grow, Trapero adds a layer of black comedy to keep the film fizzy. The soundtrack is littered with American pop tunes from the 1980s (aptly concerned with wealth and luxury), and there's a bleak, "Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" vibe that grows stronger as the movie unfolds. For all his illusions about purging his nation of capitalistic parasites, Puccio amounts to little more than a bumbling thug; taken out of the halls of governmentally-sanctioned agencies that trade in brutality and murder and dropped into the streets, Puccio is increasingly inept and ineffectual. There's a "Goodfellas" vibe here, as horrific violence and criminal incompetence combine. In the end, however, the film -- which is based on true events and the crimes of a real family -- is more a tragedy than either a comedy or a caper.



Arquímedes Puccio :: Guillermo Francella
Alejandro Puccio :: Peter Lanzani
Adriana Puccio :: Antonia Bengoechea
Maguila Puccio :: Gastón Cocchiarale
Mónica :: Stefanía Koessl
Guillermo Puccio :: Franco Masini
Anibal Gordon :: Fernando Miró
Silvia Puccio :: Giselle Motta


Director :: Pablo Trapero
Screenwriter :: Pablo Trapero
Producer :: Agustín Almodóvar
Producer :: Pedro Almodóvar
Producer :: Esther García
Producer :: Matías Mosteirín
Executive Producer :: Leticia Cristi
Executive Producer :: Axel Kuschevatzky
Executive Producer :: Pola Zito
Original Music :: Sebastián Escofet
Cinematographer :: Julián Apezteguia
Film Editor :: Alejandro Penovi
Film Editor :: Pablo Trapero
Casting :: Javier Braier

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.