I find it hard to resist films that combine philosophy and humor, so I took a liking to The Distinguished Citizen. We are introduced to novelist Daniel Mantovani, an Argentinian living in Barcelona, as he gives his acceptance speech after being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He makes it clear that this recognition by such a respected, but superficial crowd means that he has lost his irreverent edge and his career might as well be over. Fast forward five years, and Daniel is sitting with his assistant turning down one high-level invitation after another. But, out-of-the-blue, he decides to accept an invitation to return to his small hometown of Salas, which he hasn’t visited for almost 40 years, but which he has used as fodder for his novels.
To say that the visit does not go well is an understatement. Sure, there are those townsfolk who are thrilled that one of their own became so famous and that they may have inspired one of his fictional characters, but others are resentful that Daniel became rich and famous by mocking them in print. And then there’s the personal life he left behind so long ago, like the girlfriend he abandoned and his best friend whom she married…and the young literary groupie he has sex with not realizing that she’s their daughter.