The Clan

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - — Michael Abatemarco

THE CLAN, biopic/crime drama, rated R, in Span­ish with sub­ti­tles, The Screen, 3. 5c hiles

Arquímedes Puc­cio (Guillermo Fran­cella) and his wife and chil­dren look like a typ­i­cal fam­ily. One son, Ale­jan­dro (Peter Lan­zani), is a ris­ing rugby star. His youngest son, Guillermo (Franco Masini), wants to fol­low in the foot­steps of his brother Maguila (Gastón Coc­chiar­ale) and see the world. The youngest daugh­ter, Adri­ana (An­to­nia Ben­goechea), does home­work in bed with her head­phones turned up. But be­neath the ve­neer of nor­malcy, the Puc­cio fam­ily is liv­ing a grue­some re­al­ity. Arquímedes is en­gaged in a crim­i­nal en­ter­prise that in­volves kid­nap­ping, ex­tor­tion, and mur­der. Typ­i­cal fam­ily dy­nam­ics play out while the muf­fled screams of ab­ducted vic­tims can be heard com­ing from hid­den rooms. The fam­ily reels be­tween denial, in­dif­fer­ence, and fear.

Fran­cella is chill­ing as the so­cio­pathic fam­ily pa­tri­arch. The Clan, based on a true story, is set in Buenos Aires. Un­der the regime of Leopoldo Galtieri dur­ing Ar­gentina’s so-called “dirty war,” the el­der Puc­cio was a mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer in­volved in the dis­ap­pear­ances of po­lit­i­cal dis­si­dents dur­ing a reign of state-spon­sored ter­ror. Find­ing him­self out of work af­ter Galtieri was de­posed, he turned to kid­nap­ping mem­bers of wealthy fam­i­lies for money. The story fo­cuses on Arquímedes and his re­la­tion­ship with Ale­jan­dro. By day, they run a surf shop, and the long-haired Ale­jan­dro seems an earnest, lik­able, and ide­al­is­tic young man, help­ful with the cus­tomers and pop­u­lar with his team­mates. It’s a mea­sure of his fa­ther’s in­sid­i­ous­ness that he in­volves his own son in the kid­nap­ping and even­tual mur­der of a fel­low rugby player. De­spite his bet­ter judg­ment, Ale­jan­dro is se­duced by the money when his fa­ther cuts him in for a share. Only Adri­ana re­acts in hor­ror when she hears the in­ces­sant moan­ing of a sixty-five-year-old busi­ness­woman who’s trapped in the house and be­ing held for ran­som. It was this kid­nap­ping that led to the un­rav­el­ing of the Puc­cio Clan’s crime ring when ne­go­ti­a­tions with the vic­tim’s fam­ily failed.

The Clan is a vi­o­lent film, but not gra­tu­itously so. A high point is an en­gag­ing sound­track that fea­tures The Kinks, David Lee Roth, and Cree­dence Clear­wa­ter Re­vival. The mu­sic carries the film through to a tense and sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion and re­calls Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scors­ese in the way it is used to un­der­score the un­pleas­ant­ness — as when the cam­era fol­lows an ab­duc­tion in progress while Ray Davies croons “Sunny Af­ter­noon.”

Arquímedes’ mo­ti­va­tions are self­ish and sin­is­ter. He takes a per­verse plea­sure in toy­ing with the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, giv­ing them false hopes. One vic­tim, a suc­cess­ful shoe-store owner, had re­cently of­fered Arquímedes’ son a pair on the house. All of the crimes seem to hap­pen close to home and in­volve neigh­bors and friends. The denial ex­tends be­yond the fam­ily proper and into the com­mu­nity: a legacy of si­lence from Ar­gentina’s years un­der mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ships.

It’s a fam­ily af­fair: Peter Lan­zani and Guillermo Fran­cella

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