Family pressure can be a difficult thing to overcome when looking to build your own life. It’s something plenty of us have had to deal with, but breaking can be rewarding in many instances. For someone in a normal family, that can be difficult enough, but when you’re born into a family like the one seen in The Clan, breaking free becomes more about survival rather than the simple goal of independence that others are usually seeking.
On the surface, the Puccio clan looks like an ordinary middle-class family. In some ways, they were, but what separates them from the average household is one of the businesses they took part in. Led by Arquímedes (Guillermo Francella), the Puccios helped build their lifestyle by kidnapping the wealthy and holding them for ransom. They’ve been making a decent living off of this, but things start to unravel once Alejandro (Peter Lanzani), the eldest son, begins to want more from life as he develops a view on life that young men from more balanced families tend to carry.
The fact that The Clan is based on a true story makes it even more disturbing and intriguing than it would be if it were completely fictitious. While watching, it’s difficult to understand exactly how these people got away with their crimes for as long as they actually did. Not only that, but attempting to figure out how they lived with themselves while doing this stuff may also pop into the minds of at least a few of viewers. These aspects are features that makes it all even more interesting and adds to the legitimacy of the film.
Another thing that gives The Clan the credibility that it needs comes from the characters and their relationships with one another. Especially in the case of the family’s patriarch, the personalities of some of the people at the center of it all are able to standout while still managing to also appropriately fit into the overall tone of the film. This both helps the picture run smoothly and keep the attention of viewers throughout the entire piece.
With what it’s based on, it’s understandable to think that the nature of the movie would be one that depends on violence. However, that assumption would be wrong when paying attention to what it’s actually about and how it’s brought to the screen. In spite of its potentially disturbing subject matter, much of what we bare witness to turns out to be more dramatic than violent.
This is something closer to a drama that’s built around a murky relationship between a disturbed father and his maturing son. The audience isn’t here for bloodshed and the brutal treatment of humans. They’re watching this to get a better understanding of who these two are while also discovering at least parts of who the son aspires to be. This ultimately aids in moving the film to its desired destination while the law-breaking is what bonds the father-son duo together probably more than even the blood they share.
That’s one of the reasons to watch this record-breaking film out of Argentina. There’s a method being used here that manages to create something about a morally bizarre story while not appearing to sensationalize it at all. Putting the spotlight on the family’s most important relationship allows for that to happen. Even though The Clan probably won’t make a bunch of noise here in America, it will likely satisfy those who give it a chance with its compelling take on a series of unfortunate events that seem almost comprehensively unreal.
Director: Pablo Trapero
Film Length: 107 minutes
Release Date: March 18, 2016 (U.S. Limited)
Distributor: Fox International (U.S.)