In this dark, slyly observed comedy an internationally successful writer is feted by – and confronted with – the people of the small town in Argentina that bred him and informed his life’s work.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2017
In this sardonic portrait of an artist blithely detached from his effect, Oscar Martínez is perfect as the urbane, unflappable Daniel Mantovani, a Nobel Prize-winning author whose return to his roots goes seriously askew. On a whim, after a 40-year absence, he has accepted an invitation to receive the highest honour bestowed by Salas, the small Argentinian town that bred him. Salas has featured repeatedly in his novels, never in a favourable light. “None of my characters could ever leave,” he says. “And I could never go back.” Once he does, it’s not long before the novelties of being paraded on the town fire truck, or jury service at the local art contest, wear out his grin. Soon the awesomely tone-deaf guest is enlightening his hosts on the bigger picture they so evidently lack.
The Distinguished Citizen is not without sympathy for his point of view. It skewers the photo-bombing politicians and keeps a special place in its dark heart for the knockers who corner the avowed truth-teller when his truths don’t exactly line up. The mayhem mounts until, in a concluding flourish, we may even wonder if the master’s misbehaviour is in fact his method.
“There’s plenty of comic potential in The Distinguished Citizen’s premise...But in the hands of directing duo Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat this 2016 Venice competition contender becomes something deeper, darker and more resonant than a droll tale of an ill-advised homecoming.”— Lee Marshall, Screendaily