People are fully capable of great evil. This seems to be a frequent moral that is being used lately in South American cinema. Of course, when the real, non-cinematic world is full of unimaginable horror, filmmakers refuse to ignore.
Case in point: Pablo Trapero’s The Clan. The Clan tells the story of an infamous case in 1980s Argentina where an influential family, led by a ruthless formerly political patriarch, kidnapped several wealthy individuals in exchange for ransom before summarily murdering them. The fact that this case is not as well-known in North America somehow adds to the mystique of Trapero’s film, as the viewers are unaware of the wondrous and gruesome directions.
Addressing the film’s most obvious stroke: this film is deeply and indelibly influenced by the works of Martin Scorsese. However, Trapero has his own distinctive touch that distinguishes The Clan from any other homage. The whole film is beautifully shot – giving a slick yet classic view of 1980s Argentina – along with an editing process that knows when to throw dozens of images at the viewer and when to hold onto a shot for an extended period of time. Peter Lanzani, playing the eldest son, has a certain pathetic charm to him that makes the audience feel for him even as he commits horrendous acts, but the true star of the film is Guillermo Francella, portraying the loathsome, despicable patriarch. Francella’s accurate depiction is so successfully chilling, that the audience can’t help but hate him. He stands amongst the worst villains of cinema, and yet, he was real.
Finally, special recognition must be given to the brilliant person who made The Clan’s musical choices. I liked the whole movie, but I only truly fell in love with its style when a savage, hate-filled beating was immediately followed-up by the easy-going sounds of the Kinks singing “Sunny Afternoon”. The musical cues in this film are sensational, pushing Pablo Trapero’s work to another level of cinema. The Clan is a near flawless, if not entirely unprecedented, feature.
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Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam