A witty, charming concept is not given the treatment it deserves in “Dying in San Hilario,” an oddball piece of whimsy in which Laura Mana returns to the magical realist terrain of her widely praised debut “Compassionate Sex.” Project is hampered by a badly conceived, uncertainly played central character (Lluis Homar). Business will be limited for an outre project without an obvious hook.
San Hilario’s toad-like mayor, Mariano (Ulises Dumont), is seeking to revive the town’s reputation as a place where people go to die happy. Following a failed bank heist, crook German (Homar) escapes with the booty and jumps from a train at the godforsaken pueblo, where he is surprised to find the townspeople — who are waiting for someone else named German — giving him a warm welcome. From then on it’s standard mistaken-identity fare as German edges toward redemption, involving Esther (Ana Fernandez), a widow, a doubting priest (Juan Echanove), and wannabe artist Teodoro (Ferran Rane, giving pic’s standout perf). Despite Homar’s attractively shambling presence, the characterization is woefully thin overall. An excess of plot contrivances cramp helmer Mana’s style.