For most couples talking about their ‘free pass’ — the celebrity they would be allowed to sleep with, with no consequences to the relationship — is just a joke. For Camila (Lali Espósito) and Mateo (Martín Piroyansky), that was all it was supposed to be. That is, until Mateo wins the affection of his ‘free pass’ in Permitidos, an Argentinian comedy featuring in this year’s Cine Latino Film Festival.

That’s Not Cheating, or Permitidos, follows Camila and Mateo, a young couple who have been dating for eight years. They are on the brink of moving in together when Mateo has a chance encounter with actress and model Zoe del Río (Liz Solari). Struck by a schoolboy crush and Zoe’s attention, he gets swept into one wild night that ends up splashed over tabloid pages and Camila breaking up with him.

Rather than wallow in derivative romantic comedy territory, the film uses this as a platform to explore relationships, celebrity, and the differences between men and women. Outrageousness ensues: cue an actor who refuses to shower and lets fowl live in his house, a stalker who believes she is the conduit between said actor and the public, and Zoe’s less-than-traditional solutions for curing acne.

Espósito and Piryoansky should both be commended for their performances of characters who are at turns narcissistic, unlikeable, frustrating, and continuously compelling. Under Ariel Winograd’s directorship, Camila and Mateo are insightful studies about how men and women respond and behave to pain, jealousy, and love.

Without wandering into moralising territory, the film also provides a sharp look at the strangeness around the cult of fame and how it preoccupies everyone from executives to fans. It is easy to laugh at a truck driver who nearly gets into an accident because he is distracted by an actress’s face on a billboard, rather, it is easy to laugh at them until you consider how you might react in the same situation.

A smart, snappy comedy of manners that tests its limits without ever going too far, Permitidos is a strong voucher for the quality and innovation of the rest of Cine Latino’s offerings.

Permitidos will be screening until 29 November.

Read more about this year’s Festival here.