Since this whole Great Recession thing first started in 2008, it’s become clear that many of those wealthy, respectable pillars of American society who ran our friendly neighborhood banks are actually remorseless criminals. And while they may have all gotten a free pass from the U.S. justice system, we can perhaps find passing solace in knowing that in Argentina some wealthy, respectable pillars of society actually made a lucrative business out of kidnapping and murder. Could have been worse right? Yeah, I’m not convinced either.
But that doesn’t make the infamous case of the so-called Puccio Clan any less disturbing. Throughout the 1980’s this family of twisted, upper crust Porteños adopted the tactics of Argentina’s Dirty War and made a well organized family business out of kidnapping and extortion, only to mercilessly finish off their victims after completing the transaction. The mastermind behind this depraved family activity was an unassuming public accountant and small businessman named Arquímedes Puccio along with his son, a professional rugby player named Alejandro. Their victims? Family friends and soccer acquaintances. Yeesh.
Now, 27 years after the Puccio’s were caught and convicted, Argentine filmmaker extraordinaire Pablo Trapero finally realized that the universe essentially handed over a ready made screenplay for anyone to take. And who better to bring it to the big screen than one of Argentina’s most internationally lauded directors?
The film, entitled El Clan is one of the most anticipated Argentine films of the year, not in the least because it features box office sensation and beloved comedian Guillermo Francella in the role of Arquímedes. Much ado has been made of Francella’s physical transformation for the role, which has given him an uncanny resemblance to the character’s psychopathic real life counterpart.
While the specifics of the crimes are central to El Clan, it seems Trapero was more interested in the surreal juxtaposition of normal, upper class family life with the mundanity of the horrific crimes they committed for supplementary income. The film’s trailer kicks off with one of Trapero’s signature virtuoso sequence shots that serves as a sort of thematic microcosm of the film: Arquímedes wanders through the house fulfilling his patriarchal duties as typical family life unfolds around him — “Take your feet off the table,” and “Dinner will be served soon,” etc.
The twist comes when we see that his ultimate destination is a room where an innocent victim is chained to the bathtub, his head covered by a black bag. “Calm down, I brought your food,” Arquímedes reassures his victim as the ironically upbeat modern rock soundtrack gives way to an unsettling low end growl.
The trailer’s ensuing montage hits all the buttons of an edge-of-your-seat thriller, with plenty of dimly lit spaces, stacks of money, guns, menacing glares, and slamming trunks. With Trapero behind the camera, Francella in front, and a jaw dropping true crime story to draw from, it’s going to be pretty hard to go wrong with The Clan.