Arquímedes (Guillermo Francella) is a professional kidnapper. He no longer works for the oppressive state regime, and even though his ambitions are now financial rather than political, he’s still using his talents to make a living. Soon he recruits his eldest son Alejandro (Peter Lanzani) into the business of plucking targets from their everyday existence, keeping them in the Puccio family dwelling, and extorting their hapless relatives. Arquímedes’ first victim, however, is a friend and rugby teammate of Alejandro's, and this choice sparks a father-son conflict that spans the entire film.
What follows over the next two years is a battle for Alejandro to define himself as kidnappings become grisly murders under the disconcertingly impassive gaze his family.
It's certainly no small task to make a film that lives up to this powerful true story, so does Trapero deliver? Well, sort of. The pace is frenetic, and moments of stylistic explosion punctuate the action. In one effective scene, in which Alejandro artfully maneuvers his lover around the back seat of a car, carnal ecstasy is intercut with images of brutal violence within the Puccio home. Sound effects co-mingle deliciously.
It would be easy to liken Trapero's efforts to those of Scorcese, but The Clan falls short, especially in its characterization. The extent to which the son refuses to speak up against his father is alarming, yet we never know him well enough to understand his weakness (or indeed whether this is weakness, and not choice). Indeed, the script rarely allows us past Alejandro's pretty smile and charmingly tousled hair. The same can be said of Arquímedes. The source of the father's relentless ambition is never made clear - he makes money, it’s true, but what drives the desire? These are far from insignificant problems, and they leave the final act much less effective than it could have been.
Perhaps the most disturbing facet of this tale is the way in which the Puccios, as a family unit, manage to live a comfortable run-of-the-mill life while committing acts of despicable cruelty. The real criminality here is in how the family's psychology and moral responsibility are left unprobed by Trapero.
The Clan is incredibly watchable, and it drags you along by the scruff of the neck, but during moments of respite its weaknesses become apparent. Trapero's over reliance on stylistic cliché and lack of interest in psychology leave the story as floppy as Alejandro’s heartthrob fringe.
|What||The Clan film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
16 Sep 16 – 16 Nov 16, Times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more details|