Thus begins this story that to this viewer reminds of the "prodigal son" parable. Ariel gets back to the place of his birth, a place he hardly recognizes. Having been brought up as Jewish, his past comes back to confront him in unexpected ways. Being away from the religion of his childhood, Ariel is resentful of of the environment where he has come back to. His father, Usher, is the spirit of a foundation that helps the poor Jewish inhabitants of the Buenos Aires' neighborhood called "Once". Usher is everywhere, but his interaction with Ariel and the people of his community is always done on the phone. We never see this man, although his presence looms large throughout the story.
We get to know the reason for Ariel's resentment against his parents. Usher, being so involved in the community, neglects to attend an important date with Ariel. An absent mother also contributes to Ariel's unhappiness. To make matters worse, Usher keeps pressing his son to get involved in things he cannot attend himself. Slowly, but surely, Ariel comes to understand the role of his father and the way a lot of people depend on the kindness of Usher. Ariel's involvement takes him back to his Jewish roots and understands his father's mission. Ariel might have been away from his religion, but he rediscovers the importance of his upbringing. Then there is the presence of the mysterious Eva, a helper at the foundation with problems of her own. The attraction between Ariel and Eva plays a lot with the outcome of the story.
Daniel Burman, one of the best directors working in the Argentine cinema, sets this story in the colorful location where life is not easy for most of the poor older Jews eking a living in a city. Mr. Burman knows the people well; his tale of reconnecting with one's faith and acceptance works well as he spins his tale with a light touch that works in unexpected ways. Alan Sabbagh, who plays Ariel is perfect as the man at the center of the story. He gives a performance that is consistent of the type of character he plays. Mr. Sabbagh is the main reason for watching the film. Lovely Julieta Zilberberg is perfectly mysterious as Eva. As far as the main character, we get to see him in the last section of the film. He is a "presence" always heard, but never seen.