Esteemed and jaded writer Daniel Mantovani (played by Oscar Martinez, who gives a pitch-perfect performance of a world-weary man who has the gift of a comedic eye for reality) decides to accept an invitation to fly back to his old hometown Salas in Argentina.
Pretty quickly, he discovers this idea to have a downside.
At first, he is lauded in a series of low rent events, which start with him being driven around the town on the back of a fire engine accompanied by the Mayor and a local beauty Queen. And then, gradually, things turn weird.
The daughter of his old best friend arrives at his hotel room and throws herself at him.
Somewhat less pleasantly, a group of moral citizens storm his lecture and accuse him of being a degenerate.
The people he used to know are revealed to lead lives of quiet desperation, hoping to connect with the towns one claim to fame to escape their sordid existence. His best friend turns out to be an alcoholic who cheats on his wife with the local prostitutes and hangs around with a young man who amuses him by doing an impersonation of a pig.
Finally, Mantovani can take no more, and at the town art contest, he lets the small-minded denizens of Salas know precisely what he thinks of them.
He resolves to leave that very night but soon gets sucked into a hunt where he turns out to be the prey as the dissatisfied citizens get their chance at revenge on this city big shot.
That’s what happens. Or does it? The film makes it clear that an artist is not a recorder of facts.
When Mantovani is asked ‘what makes an artist?’, he replies with words to the effect of an artist is someone dissatisfied with how the world is and wants to reimagine it as someplace more interesting.
This devotion to making things up means that we can never really trust an artist to portray the truth, only a more entertaining version of the world we occupy.
So, did these things we’ve seen in the film really happen? Or did they only occur in the writer’s mind? And more importantly, does it matter either way?