Silver Lion for Best director at the 2015 Venice Film Festival and Argentina’s official submission for the 88th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film category, Pablo Trapero’s effective new thriller, El Clan, based on a true story, tells the account of the Puccio Clan, a family of kidnappers in 1980s Argentina.

It was a time of dread and national sorrow. On the wake of the return of democracy, the Puccios took advantage of the political turmoil of this troubled period. The modus operandi was simple: Kidnap rich people, Ask for a juicy ransom, kill.

The whole flick is well mannered, patiently constructed and pretty well written. Trapero slowly builds the tension with a good sense of pacing and no big hammering moments with dark musical noisy clichés that we usually associate with such works. However, the star of the show is actor Guillermo Francella (from 2009 Oscar winner El Secreto de Sus Ojos). As the patriarch, his playing, at times highly economical with very short but impressive bursts of sudden violence, is top notch. The way he conveys contradictory emotions with his eyes and voice, going from a strong father figure to a cold blooded meticulous murderer is Oscar country performance. He always do just enough and never too much.

El Clan is not without flaws, with its sometime overexposed cinematography typical to many movies these days and the approach to violence, even if not excessive for this kind of plot, as a spectacle is always questionable especially in the case of real events. Namely, we could do without the Scorsese influenced murders synchronized on popular songs even if it is actually well done.

Overall, El Clan is a pretty interesting picture. Yours to discover.

  • El Clan is featured as part of the Montreal 7th Latin American Film Festival.