2015, Movies

TIFF 2015: The Clan (2015, Pablo Trapero)

Though I see a lot of movies – and I mean a lot of movies – and I can usually articulate what I like and don’t like in a particular film, there are always one or two where I feel like there is something wrong but I can’t articulate it, I just feel it. This is one of those movies.

This is the apparently true story of a family that…


was involved in regular kidnappings in Argentina after the era of The Disappeared had ended. See, the father worked for the state secret police, and when he was no longer needed by them, he seems to have started kidnapping people on his own. That there is one of the many things that isn’t exactly explained in this film. I assume an Argentinian audience would know for sure. I don’t fault the film for that, though.

The issues I see have far more to do with tone: Trapero has followed Mann in putting in extraordinarily inappropriate music cues – and montages, too many montages – where the scenes absolutely do not match the music. Though this can be effective, I have never been a fan of this approach – certainly of this approach as a dominant approach to scoring or soundtracking. A couple times in the film this works well (well, one particular time), but at times it’s also confusing.

And the way the story plays out – and the way this film is hyper-stylized – I really feel as if the film should have been played for laughs. That’s the best way to deal with incomprehensible true stories, after all.

Anyway, none of this is to suggest this movie is bad, or even mediocre, there was just something off about it for me. Not enough “off” to make me dislike it, more just to confuse me. Maybe it was my mood. Maybe I should watch it again?

Anyway, it’s still worth seeing as it exposes us to a different part of the history of a country that most of us don’t know that well and, though I may disagree with some of Trapero’s choices, I cannot deny that they’re thought-provoking at the very least.


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