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Alex may have wanted to get married and start his own shop, but Arquimedes insisted that he carry on the “family business,” and Alex — who appears physically strong and confident with friends or g.f.
Puccio was above the law, and he knew it, resulting in the blood-chilling dynamic Trapero enlisted co-writers Esteban Student and Julian Loyola to help dramatize: While clearly the film’s most sensational element, the crimes themselves represent only a fraction of the film’s focus, as the helmer turns his attention to the fearsome control Puccio wielded over his entire family, most notably his eldest son Alejandro (Peter Lanzani).
Though “The Clan” never quite succeeds at getting us to identify with Alex (as the subtitles call him), he’s the closest thing to an audience proxy here, pulled back in by Arquimedes’ control at precisely the moment he though he was establishing his own independence.
Again, some of the film’s potentially tragic details — like a raucous post-game celebration with the rugby team to which he belonged or an insert shot of Hobby Wind, the water-sports business Alex opened just in front of the family home — will register with Argentine auds, while swirling by unprocessed by outsiders, making the next bit all the more shocking: While riding with teammate Ricardo Manoukian one afternoon, their car is ambushed and men with hoods force the two “kids” into the back of a sedan, forcing Ricardo into the trunk and Alex up front, where we discover that he’d actually been the bait.
It’s a terrifying encounter, filmed with the propulsive immediacy and virtuoso flair of a Martin Scorsese or Brian De Palma setpiece, unfolding against a full-blast classic-rock anthem and the Harley-like growl of the cars’ engines, both amplified for effect.
Trapero’s ironic use of music ranks among the film’s most unnerving strategies, reminiscent of Spike Lee’s “Summer of Sam,” in which celebratory pop tunes evoke the era even as they practically serve to encourage the horrors depicted onscreen.