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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
This film by the very talented Fabian Bielinsky, has been compared, at least in the United States, with films directed by David Mamet, who a lot consider a master in this genre. I dare anyone to take a second look at those films and compare them to 9 Queens. They all pale in comparison! In fact, Mr. Mamet can take lessons from Mr. Bielinsky in how he accomplished writing and directing with a very tight budget and still given us a film that looks a lot more expensive than what it really must have cost.
Suffice it to say that 9 Queens is a joy to look at. The story of a con artist and his apprentice is executed with great flair and panache. The Buenos Aires of today looks even better as seen by Mr. Bielinsky behind his camera. The three principals, Richardo Darin, Gaston Pauls and Leticia Bredice shine in this story of deception where what we see is not necessarily what's behind the real plot of the story.
Ricardo Darin, who was excellent in The Son of the Bride, outdoes himself portraying his street smart thief. Gaston Pauls is very credible behind the facade of the trusting learner of the trade that Mr Darin is willing to teach him.
This film was a surprise because it is very well paced and it keeps the viewer going in one direction and presenting us an ending that is both credible and possible. Let's hope for more films from Fabian Bielinsky in the not too distant future.
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