Delivered with muscularity and verve, Pablo Trapero’s 80s true crime drama unravels the exploits of a well-connected Buenos Aires businessman and his rugby-star son and their ruthless kidnapping and ransom operation.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
In Argentina everybody knows about the Puccio Clan case. In 1985 it was discovered that a spate of kidnappings and murders had been the work of the Puccios, a well-established Catholic family with five children from San Isidro, a high-class suburb of Buenos Aires. They had held the hostages in their basement, then, after the ransoms had been paid, murdered them. Mamá Puccio and the daughters were allegedly oblivious, but the sons were up to their necks, none more so than golden-haired national rugby star Alejandro (Peter Lanzani), used as bait to attract victims by the controlling paterfamilias. It is through the conflicted eyes of young Alejandro that the story unravels in Pablo Trapero’s fearsomely compulsive film.
“Guillermo [The Secret of Their Eyes] Francella’s performance as Arquímedes Puccio… is one of the damnedest things you’ll ever see… Few actors have made evil so insidiously accessible.” — Michael Sragow, Film Comment
“Trapero stages the kidnapping set pieces with stirring dispatch, amping up the action with a bold, ironic, propulsive use of such pop tunes as the Kinks’ ‘Sunny Afternoon’ and David Lee Roth’s ‘Just a Gigolo’…
Despite the mayhem and Puccio’s inevitable downward spiral, the heart of the film remains the strained dynamic between Arquímedes and Alejandro: a monstrous father demanding loyalty and obedience at all costs from the prized son… Francella and Lanzani are excellent… throughout this nervy and provocative picture.” — Gary Goldstein, LA Times