Reviewing The Clan

Reviewing The Clan

The Clan (Spanish: El Clan) is a 2015 Argentine crime film directed by Pablo Trapero. It was selected to be screened in the main competition section of the 72nd Venice International Film Festival where director Pablo Trapero won the Silver Lion. The film was selected as the Argentine entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards but it was not nominated.

The story is based on the case of the Puccios, a family from Buenos Aires that kidnapped four people -three of whom they murdered- in the 1980s.

The Puccios appeared to be a typical family from the traditional district of San Isidro, with aspirations of moving up into upper class. At the end of the Falklands War in 1982, Arquímedes Puccio (Guillermo Francella), the patriarch of the family who worked for the state’s intelligence services, becomes unemployed. After this, he decides to become a criminal and starts kidnapping people and demanding ransoms, targeting wealthy families. Alejandro Puccio (Peter Lanzani), the eldest son and star player of both a rugby club and the Argentina National Rugby Union team, starts to collaborate with his father in order to identify potential hostages, taking advantage of his popularity among friends and acquaintances not to raise suspicion. The hostages are taken and kept prisoner in the Puccios’ home and, after receiving a ransom, they are executed.

The first victim is Ricardo Manoukian, a friend of Alejandro. Alejandro did not understand his friend would be killed and he feels a degree of guilt. With the economic benefits of the ransom, the Puccios improve their financial situation and by early 1983 they replace the family deli with a successful store selling windsurfing equipment. Alejandro meets Monica at the store and she becomes his girlfriend. Meanwhile Gustavo Contenpomi, a man furious for having been deceived in a business deal by entrepreneur Florencio Aulet, contacts the Puccios, who kidnap the son of Aulet, Eduardo, another acquaintance of Alejandro. The Aulets pay the ransom, but Eduardo has already been murdered and his body disappears.

In December, 1983, after the return to democracy in Argentina, Arquímedes goes to visit military officer Aníbal Gordon in prison -who had participated in the kidnapping of a businessman in 1973- and asks for advice on how to continue with the activities of the Clan in the new political landscape. Gordon entrusted him to find new customers related to the process of national reorganization, taking advantage of the prestige of the military, and which still boasts protection forces and still have power.

Alejandro accompanies his younger brother, Guillermo, to the airport, who is going abroad on a sports trip. Before leaving, Guillermo confesses to him that he will not return because he is aware of what his father is doing, is afraid of the conseqences and urges Alejandro to leave as soon as possible. Alejandro decides not to join his father in the kidnapping of another businessman, Emilio Naum, which causes the plan to fail and Naum is murdered after refusing to stop the car where Arquímedes had told him to and resists the abduction.

To reconcile with his father, Alejandro travels abroad to convince his other brother, Daniel “Magilla” Puccio, to return to Argentina and join the Clan. The joy over the return of Magilla is not complete, as it has been more than one year since anyone knows the whereabouts of Guillermo. Now in 1985, the Clan kidnap businesswoman Nélida Bollini Prado and keep her prisoner in the basement of the house for more than one month. Things do not go according to plan: the ransom negotiations fail; Adriana – the younger daughter of the family – hears the screams coming from the basement; and Arquímedes gets a call from his military superiors warning him that he no longer has protection, so he stays alert and vigilant.

In August 1985, when Arquímedes and Magilla collect the ransom in a service station, they are arrested by the police, who then breaks into the Puccio house, freeing the kidnapped victim and arresting the family, with the exception of Adriana. The case causes a media frenzy, calling them the “Puccio Clan”. The evidence against Arquímedes is compelling, even if he does not recognize his responsibility for the facts and claims to have acted under political pressure. While his rugby team and Monica believe in his innocence, Alejandro can not withstand the pressure, and after hitting his father – provoked by Arquímedes to provide a false statement, and when Alejandro is about to be sentenced along with his father and brother – attempts to commit suicide by jumping from the fifth floor of the court building just before he was going to make a statement.

The film ends with a text detailing the fate of the family: Alejandro survives his suicide attempt, and in prison would try to commit suicide four more times. Monica requests to stop visiting him and remakes her life. Alejandro died in 2008. Magilla, for his part, never served his sentence since he fled the country – presumably to Brazil, Australia or New Zealand – and in 2013 he returned to Argentina, the charges dropped due to the statute of limitations. Guillermo never was related to the facts. He never returned to Argentina and his whereabouts are unknown. Epifanía was freed from prison for lack of merit. Nor was Silvia declared guilty, and died of cancer at the age of 52. Adriana was young during the events. Her surname was changed and she lived with her maternal uncles before returning to live with her mother. Arquímedes was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was benefited by the 2×1 and regained his freedom. In prison, he studied and practiced law. He died in 2013 in La Pampa, no family claimed his body.