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Early one morning, Marcos observes Juan successfully pulling off a bill-changing scam on a cashier, and then getting caught as he attempts to pull the same trick on the next shift. Marcos steps in, claiming to be a policeman, and drags Juan out of the store. Once they are back on the street, Marcos reveals himself to be a fellow swindler with a game of much higher stakes in mind, and he invites Juan to be his partner in crime. A once-in-a-lifetime scheme seemingly falls into their laps - an old-time con man enlists them to sell a forged set of extremely valuable rare stamps, The Nine Queens. The tricky negotiations that ensue bring into the picture a cast of suspicious characters, including Marcos' sister Valeria, their younger brother Federico and a slew of thieves, conmen and pickpockets. As the deceptions mount, it becomes more and more difficult to figure out who is conning whom. Written by
I have never seen a film as relentlessly uncompromising about the allure, power, and banality of the con game.
I have never seen a film as relentlessly uncompromising about the allure, power, and banality of the con game as I have seen in the Argentine `Nine Queens.' From the opening sequence where small-time grifter Juan pulls a $20 switch at a convenience store to the final scam that looks like `House of Cards' and `The Sting' welded onto `Hard Eight,' nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted.
More recently think of `Sexy Beast,' `The Heist,' and `The Score.' However this is David Mamet territory, where buddies keep one eye on the target and the other on the buddy.
In the current `Enron' environment, no surprise at the allegorical suggestion of this film that trust is a rare commodity these days, banks are vulnerable (consider the Argentinean economy), and lame goddess Nemesis may never catch up with some of business's most egregious con artists, from CEO's to salespeople.
The film's pace is quick, like the hands of 3-card Monte; emotional involvement either on the screen or in the audience is minimal; everyone has a moment of triumph and defeat. Even beauty has its deceptive moment when Leticia Bredice, as the sister of other con artist Ricardo Darin, struts her stuff in the hotel lobby.
`Nine Queens' won 7 awards from the Argentinean Film Critics Association. I'm betting that's not a con.
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