Slough Cooperative Film Society Slough Cooperative Film Society

The Society has been showing the best of world and independent cinema in Slough for 70 years

 

19th September 2017 DATCHET VILLAGE HALL

THE CLAN

Argentina/Spain/USA 2014 108 mins


Arquímedes Puccio Guillermo Francella Director Pablo Trapero
Alejandro Puccio Peter Lanzani Writer Pablo Trapero
Epifania Puccio Lili Popovich Cinematographer Julián Apetzeguía
Maguila Puccio Gastón Cocchiarale Editors Pablo Trapero, Alejandro
Silvia Puccio
Guillermo Puccio
Adriana Puccio
Giselle Motta
Franco Masini
Antonia Bengoechea

Music
Carrillo Penovi
Sebastián Escofet

Expertly written and directed, this is the true story of a seemingly innocuous family in 1980s Argentina that turned out to be involved in a series of hideous crimes. Filmmaker Pablo Trapero recounts these events with unnerving realism, aided by such natural performances that the cast doesn’t seem to be acting at all.

In 1982, Argentina is just beginning the transition from dictatorship to democracy. But Arquimedes Puccio is still set in his ways, using abduction to earn a living from ransom payments. Eldest son Maguila escapes his grip by fleeing to New Zealand, so he ropes his rugby star son Alex into the family business. Wife Epifania and the younger children remain wilfully ignorant about the noisy hostages being held in the upstairs bathroom. Then when Alex gets serious with his girlfriend Monica, he wants out too.

The Clan poster

The film opens with a teasing glimpse of the 1985 police raid that ended the family's crime spree. The way everything unfolds will feel somewhat rushed for audiences unfamiliar with the Puccio family, although Trapero keeps the events lucid and involving. This is mainly because he centres on the tense father-son relationship, as Arquimedes belittles Alex at every turn, right to the bitter and twisted climax.

This makes Alex the film's protagonist, a sympathetic young man whose misdeeds can be understood in context. It's a complex approach for a film about such notorious crimes, and Lanzani plays the role beautifully. Francella is a superb counterpoint, a seemingly innocuous old man who can turn into a vicious monster in the blink of an eye. Of the other characters, only Masini’s Guillermo seems to have a conscience, fleeing the moment he figures out what's happening.

By contrast, the women and girls all seem rather oblivious, despite a few suspicions. Trapero punches the irony of this, filling scenes with loud renditions of buoyant pop songs like the Kinks' Sunny Afternoon and cross-cutting passionate sex with a wailing victim. This gives the movie a sense of scale and a hefty thematic weight, making it more than just a bit of Argentina's history. This is about the fallout from an immoral government teaching its citizens how to operate.

Rich Cline at www.shadowsonthewall.co.uk