Greetings again from the darkness. It seems inherent within human nature for kids to want to make their parents happy and proud. Most of the time the reverse is also true: the majority of parents want to be good role models for their kids. However, when the latter is not true, things can get pretty ugly … even frightening. Such is the case with the real life story of the Puccio family in Argentina.
Acclaimed Argentinean director Pablo Trapero (Carancho, 2010) gives us a look at the Puccio crime family, and in the process draws parallels between the political turmoil and re-structuring of Argentina as it returned to a democracy in the early 1980’s.
The façade of the happy family makes for perfect public cover as horrendous crimes are perpetuated … often in the basement of the family home. Arquimedes (Guillermo Francella, The Secret in Their Eyes 2009) is the father who often seizes on the celebrity of his rugby star son Alex/Alejandro (Peter Lanzani) to catch their victims off-guard. The family Modus Operandi is pretty simple: kidnap-collect ransom- kill. Arquimedes was known for his hospitality, often offering home-cooked meals to the victims as they were chained in the family basement. Quite a contrast to the brutality involved in the crimes.
The film raises many questions, and makes us wonder where the line of guilt is drawn between committing a crime, and simply looking the other way. It’s presented as if Alex felt compelled to support his father’s endeavors even though it caused major internal struggles for him. Certainly the mother/wife (an excellent Lili Popovich) made the conscious decision to do what was necessary. It’s especially unsettling to see Arquimedes helping his daughter with her school work, while the most recent victim is shackled in the cellar.
As Argentina’s Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language film, it didn’t make the final cut, but it’s absolutely at the level of the five nominated films. Fans of Scorcese and Coppola crime films will see the influences, and the film rates with such crime gems as A Prophet (2009) and Animal Kingdom (2010).
watch the trailer: