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:: Nine Queens (Nueve Reinas)

Writer/director Fabian Bielinsky provides an entertaining feature film debut with Nine Queens. This is a likeable film that puts the sting back into the con artist. The set of characters are well studied in the examination of honour amongst criminals. Made in Argentina, this film uses the heist and double-cross plot devices as its storyline. We see a new and refreshing take on this type of film and it is immensely enjoyable because parts will take the viewer by surprise.

Juan (Gaston Pauls) is a small-time crook who gets caught conning a convenience store-worker. When this occurs, another man, Marcos (Ricardo Darin), steps in, pretending to be a policeman, and takes him away. In fact, Marcos is a big stakes con man who is looking for a partner for bigger jobs. Soon, Marcos’s sister (Leticia Bredice) contacts him from a luxury hotel where the two men team up for a ruse to obtain a counterfeit collection of extremely rare stamps known as the Nine Queens. They have money problems and see this as a huge payday. Since they have a buyer in mind, the plan seems airtight until other con artists and derailed strategies send their racket into a comic set of misadventures. The continuing con games take place between all the participants up to and including the ending of the film.

The scenarios will draw in the viewer although there is much Spanish dialogue to absorb. But this is a film worth following closely as the fascination as to who is doing the double-crossing is mounting. The script is well written and witty. It’s not over the top and the director doesn’t rely on unnecessary violence to speed up the pace. The acting performances turn out to be just as deceptive as the story, and each does a fine job. The story and dialogue set the pattern of the film and leaves it up to the audience to concentrate on what’s happening.

Bielinsky’s first feature film, after his career on television and commercials, is energetic and subtle. It’s a pleasing story and it’s interesting to observe the reference to a Rita Pavone song. She was a big star in Italian pop music. The catchy music will make you feel good. The film is highly recommended.

Screening at Cinema Nova