The Clan (Pablo Trapero, 2015): Argentina

Reviewed by Adam Holm, Santa Barbara film festival 2016. Lobero Theater


This true story about the Argentine family was definitely one of my favorite films at Santa Barbara Film festival this year. Not only because it was a very interesting true story but also because the plot was humouristic and action-packed.

The special thing about this film is that the audience is on the families side during the whole story, even though that they kidnap young people and blackmail their families. The first 20-30 minutes of the film is only a introduction of the family and the oldest son. That gets the audience on a really personal level with the family, before we realize how terrible crimes they commit. I personally didn’t know about the family or about the film before i walked into the theater, so it was really a huge surprise for me to see the family as the clan. This perfect way of introducing the family makes the audience to be on their side during the whole film. You actually want them to get away with the horrible crimes, because we meet them as a normal family in the start.

The first crime they make in the film is therefore a plottwist both for the audience but also for the family because something goes wrong in this particular kidnaping; they kill the hostage. The oldest son which is the main character gets very upset about it because his father promised him that they wouldn’t make any killings ever. The main character is also a successful rugby player but gets a lot of help from his father. Therefor he is trapped in the family business if he wants to stay successful.

The visual style in this film is amazing. The cinematography is beautiful with it’s long and smooth takes and fantastic depth of field. The editing is really on point and i really liked the color grading. I will say the best part of the film must be the acting. Especially the main character and the father is making an outstanding performance in their own way. The father reminds me of an older and Argentine version of Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho” because of his strong psychopath character. He does really have 2 personalitys like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which also has a reference to the film because they are keeping the hostages in a dark basement. The last reference to “The Clan” is to “Breaking Bad” because of storytelling and the plottwist where the audience is on the families side, even though they are criminals. They are committing the crimes to survive in a tough society, which is why we are on their sides. This is off course only the director who can make this connection between the characters and the audience, which is why he did a fantastic job.

I would definitely recommend everyone to see this film, it is a great experience to watch such a masterpiece from Argentina.

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