Family Limits: Our Review of ‘The Clan’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 25, 2016
Family Limits: Our Review of ‘The Clan’

There’s nothing more batshit crazy then the truth.

“Based on a true story” are five words that get over used in modern cinema on a fairly regular basis but in a refreshing change, The Clan takes those words dead seriously in a vicious, grimly funny and even occasionally empathic crime procedural that sees a young man’s idyllic family unravel before his eyes.

At first glance, the Puccios are just your average run of the mill neighbours, no different than anyone else living on any street anywhere in the world.  Arquímedes (Guillermo Francella) is the head of a modest household where his wife, sons, and daughters gather most evenings over home cooked meals to discuss their days, it’s the picture of what anyone would hope for in family life, but it’s a household that holds some dark secrets.   The oldest son;  Alejandro (Peter Lanzani) who is a star rugby player  with a bright future ahead of him is manipulated into helping his father carry out the meticulously planned abductions, and while not all of the family participates none of them are trying to stop it all either.   However, when kidnapping turns to murder, Alejandro must finally face the truth that his father, his hero, is a cold-blooded killer and his entire families grip on reality is tenuous at best.

While there are some beats that admittedly get a little lost in translation, The Clan is a cold-bloodedly fun affair that allows us to get lost in the absurdity of the world that this young man has to live in.

Director Pablo Trapero is a steady veteran hand at getting a story from beginning to end and he successfully gets us as an audience to suspend just enough of our disbelief to understand why this all happened like it did.  The narrative in the screenplay that Trapero also co-wrote does have some moments where it drifts and takes us into some vague territory but once we are given some appropriate scope that’s when the action hits home.  Trapero isn’t afraid to show us the more grizzly bits as this juxtaposition of brutality and family life slowly but surely begins to merge and thanks to some very solid performances it really works.the-clan

Guillermo Francella as the head of this household plays it just right as there are no overt hysterics or outwardly crazy moments, we just have to see in a look that this guy isn’t all there and what he is subjecting his family to is just insane.  Combined with how the patriarchal relationship gets so corrupted here it is a fascinating character study and performance as he unfurls it all in such a subtle fashion.  Peter Lanzani does well opposite him as he knows he has to get away from him but has been taught the exact opposite and has to push against the nature and instinct to love his father unconditionally.  He’s tormented about what is going on, but still can’t find away to leave it all and it makes for a very compelling character arc to watch unfold.

I’ll admit that The Clan has some subtle nuances that don’t translate perfectly to North American audiences; it still makes for a hell of a ride that you wouldn’t want to miss, especially when the eventual English language remake probably screws it all up.

  • Release Date: 3/25/2016
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.

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