By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
My Cine Las Americas film festival continued the next night with this hilarious gem from Argentina. El Cidudano Ilustre/The Distinguished Citizen tells a rather amusing tale about Daniel Mantovani, a man who left his humble small town in Argentina to achieve both critical and financial success as an author. After receiving the Nobel prize for Literature, Daniel receives an endless amount of speaking engagement invitations, but only one in particular piques his interest. Though he has not been to his hometown in about thirty years, Daniel receives an invitation by the current mayor to be honored as a distinguished former citizen of the community and is asked to make a few speaking engagements and participate in a local art contest. This proves to be a huge mistake, as Daniel’s disdain for his hometown resurfaces and makes for a most awkward visit. In addition, Daniel’s brutally honest personality and poor social skills infuriate some of the citizens, including the husband (Dady Brieva) of Daniel’s former high school sweetheart Nuria (Nora Navas).
Written by Andrés Duprat and directed by Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn, El Ciudadano Ilustre is an absolute riot with smartly written humor, mostly of the socially awkward variety. I rather enjoyed the Daniel Mantovani character, even though he often comes across as arrogant and haughty. Some of the personalities and activities of his small town actually do deserve his disdain, but at the same time, others do not. Nevertheless, the scenarios and clash of personalities are wonderfully written, directed and performed with great comic timing and execution. The film’s brand of humor and situations have some similarities to the comedy and scenarios in U.S. TV shows such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Californication. Fans of these programs will no doubt enjoy this movie and the comic surprises it has to offer.