Nine Queens (2000) Poster


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The Best "Con Caper" in Years
Gary Murphy8 February 2003
This is a very well-done movie. The writing, acting and direction are all right on target with all contributing to the story without distraction. The direction is very evenly paced with no sags in the middle, but without the constant sensory overload that seems to be the Hollywood norm in this genre.

The story reminded me of the "The Sting" in subject matter and quality. The movie keeps you guessing as to who will end up with the money and how they will get to it.

I highly recommend this movie.
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Scams and con artists in modern day Buenos Aires
ennis-n-jack13 April 2006
This is one of the best whodunit's in years! The acting is great, and cleverly staged. Each individual adds more and more complexity to the storyline such that you can't discount whether or not they're crucial to the plot. The plot unweaves slowly, but evenly, adding layer on layer of innuendo, suggestion, twists, and turns that catch you off guard. No one character, or actor for that matter, overtakes any of the others. I don't think you'll get this consistency, unless Mamet directs. The downtown realism of Buenos Aires only adds to the story. It's not a shoot location we're used to seeing, and the novel setting creates an odd contrast to what we've seen come out of modern Europe. The action is well-paced, with a steady guessing, and wondering-what's-gonna-happen-next pace. I highly recommend seeing this movie before, and if, a US version is released.
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Jerry Brown (jp88)18 January 2005
This is a great film, one of the best non-American movie that I've seen. It has everything that you can expect from this kind of movies, action, suspense, and humor. You can see it 9 times and never get tired of it, it's so well performed and directed that it's just perfect.

From the beginning to the end this picture keeps you alert, there are no boring moments, even if you don't speak Spanish the dialogues can be understood, the English subtitles are OK . I'm sure that if it was an American film it would have become a classic. If you haven't seen it yet ,do yourself a favour and rent it, you won't regret.

10 out of 10 stars.
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Fantastic Film! Don't be afraid of the subtitles!
itssosublime5 July 2007
I know some people out there who don't like to watch movies with subtitles. It either makes them feel that they are missing out on the essence of the film because they do not understand the language being spoken, or they simply don't want to be forced to read in order understand what's going on. For those who share that opinion, it's quite a shame because this is one fantastic film that you will be missing.

Being the son of an Argentine-born parent, I more or less understand a lot of the Spanish spoken by the characters in this film, though I am in no way fluent. As you watch this film though, you almost forget that the subtitles are there. You can miss a few lines of dialog and still have a good grasp of exactly what's going on. This is due mainly to the two starring actors in the film who were absolutely incredible. First, Ricardo Darin, is nothing short of brilliant. He's a well-known actor in Argentina and has such an incredibly natural on-screen presence that you can't help but be captivated by his performance. He plays the role of a professional con-man to perfection, combining his dramatic and comedic skills to form an equally villainous as well as sympathetic character. Secondly, his counterpart Gaston Pauls is equally brilliant as Darin's baby-faced accomplice in what is to be a "one in a million" opportunity to swindle a wealthy businessman out of a small fortune.

I've seen the American version "Criminal" - 2004, which is also good, but does not really do justice to the original. Nine Queens is a brilliant piece of international film-making that will not disappoint any fan of the genre. As mentioned by a reviewer, there is absolutely zero "down time" in this film. The dialog is crisp, the characters are very well cast and there is no time wasted with any unnecessary filler or elongated scenes. Every word and every scene builds a bridge to the next and culminates with a surprising and satisfying ending that you definitely will not be expecting. Please, don't let the language barrier prevent you from seeing this film. It's very easy to follow and well worth the small effort required. 10/10.
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Excellent, even if you don't understand Spanish.
DesiBaba22 April 2004
I have watched this movie about four times in last two years. It is an excellent movie, very believable. More so than similar Hollywood movies in the recent years. Movie has good casting, excellent script, and very good acting. I highly recommend this movie even if you don't understand Spanish- I have enjoyed it every time, even with sub-titles. There is a Hollywood remake of this move in works, the script is golden. The story is particularly relevant, considering what has happened in Argentina over the last four years. I with the director would make more movies. I have searched for his first movie (Sonámbula, La) in US but have been unable to find it. I hope it airs on one of the premium channels.

9 out of 10 stars.
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David Mamet, eat your heart out!
jotix10019 May 2002
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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The mirror of deception
Chris Knipp1 November 2002
Warning: Spoilers
`Nueve reinas' or `Nine Queens,'a film made in Argentina on a shoestring, is one of the most elaborate and authentic grifter/con films ever made, and I don't know if I could explain it if I wanted to. In fact to explain it would be to ruin it for anyone who hasn't already seen it, because each successive grift is a surprise, and it's only after one has seen it that one wants very much to discuss just what it is that happened all through and above all what that final sequence means. It is the gift of `Nine Queens' to pile surprise on surprise on surprise until it seems that the grifters are the victims of their own grift at every stage of the long fascinating game. This is not a parable about cons but a literal con. It's the real thing. Stories about grifters or con artists, like, say, the excellent Stephen Frears movie, `The Grifters,' (1990), or the ingenious David Mamet movie, `The Spanish Prisoner' (1997). or Fred Schepisi's illuminating `Six Degrees of Separation' (1993), have some point to make, but the only point of a real con is that the con artist can never be trusted and his victims can always be fooled, and it's the essence of dealing with such people that you realize at some point that nothing they said was reliable, from the very first word. This is the way it is with `Nine Queens,' and that's what makes it such a classic movie and such an ultimate depiction of the world of the grifter. And so the movie becomes a kind of parable after all, because as Calderón said, Life is a dream and a dream of a dream, and as I would like to point out for those who I hope will not find it too obvious, a filmmaker is a con artist too, because he sets out to make us believe that what he depicts is real, which it is not, and that his actors are the people they portray, which they are not. And so a con artist is a perfect role for an actor to play.

Perhaps Fabián Bielinsky, the creator of `Nine Queens,' who's less famous than Mamet and Frears and Schepisi, is therefore more modest, and is therefore able to focus on the con within the con without making any point besides conning us through to the end of this ingenious story. The actors are not famous, but like any actors worth their salt they are convincing and charismatic enough to hold our attention and make us believe that they are doing what they say they are. The very simplicity of the production and modesty of the actors (not of their skills, which are excellent, but of their reputations, which are minor) aid in convincing us of the audience that the scenes we are watching are or could be quite real. The story begins when a younger man who has been conning the staff of a convenience store gets caught in his con, and an older man comes in successfully posing as a policeman and takes him away, thus freeing him from the clutches of the store manager and staff. Thus two con artists, Juan, the younger man, and Marcos, the older one, meet and form an alliance, in which Marcos enlists Juan's help in a scheme he has yet to explain.

At one point early on Marcos makes a phone call when Juan is out of earshot and he says only, `It's on.' What? Do we ever find out? What is clear from that moment, if not before, is that no alliance between con artists is a sharing of trust.

The ultimate lesson to be learned from `Nine Queens' is that no one is more gullible than a con man – that grifters, in order to con people, have to be able to believe in their own fabrications, and thereby they become potential victims of the grift. Eventually the two deceivers are led to a set of stamps of great value called `The Nine Queens,' which they set out to sell to a very rich man visiting from Spain called Gandolfo. Gandolfo seems almost ridiculously eager to purchase these items from these fellows who have no pedigree or legitimate provenance. But herein lies another truth, that greed – in this case the rich collector's greed to obtain a prize item by any means necessary – will lead men to take unreasonable risks. Everyone once a con is afoot is eager to make a profit, and both con artist and victim want to believe they have found a wonder at a bargain price.

It is essential to the value of the movie that we in the audience realize only at the end that the con is on us.

No story is more focused than this one. Like a picaresque tale it moves from moment to moment: each moment is a transformation, and must be watched with riveted attention because it will change what comes next. Such a simple and effective means of constructing a movie! Yet how rarely are such means put to such good use! `Nine Queens' has etched a small but permanent niche for itself in the history of cinema.

This is a mean and ugly world, which at the same time is utterly fascinating and compulsively watchable. Can people really be like this? Indeed they can. And the interest with which we watch it all happen shows that we are made of the same cloth.
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Engaging, well-paced thriller.
gridoon11 June 2004
To tell you the truth, I was a little wary of this movie at the beginning, because the minor scams the characters were pulling off seemed kind of lame, but as the story progressed and the stakes got higher and higher, it became an engaging, clever, well-paced and well-acted heist thriller. It certainly has the requisite number of twists and turns to please any fan of the genre. At the end, the 114 minutes had passed like a breeze, and that's one of the sure signs of a good movie. (***)
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I have never seen a film as relentlessly uncompromising about the allure, power, and banality of the con game.
jdesando23 July 2002
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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Sticky & Square
sol6 March 2004
Wonderful little movie about two small time con-men, Marcos & Juan, in Buenos Aires who come upon a scheme involving "The Nine Queens". A set of rare stamps from the long defunct German Weimar Republic that are worth a kings ransom. We then soon get to see the ups and downs by the two in the movie to first obtain them and then fence them. Marcos' sister Anibal who works as a manager in a large hotel in Buenos Aires call her brother to help an old friend of his, Sandler, who collapsed in the lobby and to take him home.

Arriving at the hotel with his friend Juan, Marcos finds old man Sandler is not only very sick but also excited about a guest staying at the hotel. Sandler also recognized Juan as the son of a person that he worked with years ago in forging money documents and stamps. Sandler tells the two con men that there's a guest in the hotel who is being deported to Venezuela within the next few days who's the multi-millionaire industrialist Vidal Gandolfo who also collect stamps for a hobby.

Sandler goes on to tell the two con-men that he can counterfeit the famous "Nine Queens" stamps and sell them to Gandolfo and they all can split the take, which runs as high as half a million dollars. The three become involve with the scheme to first fool and then fleece Gandolfo of the money he'll be willing to pay for the stamps. What they didn't realize was just how many other persons will become involve with their plan that in the end will lead to one of the most surprising endings you'll ever see in a crime caper film.

Ingenious story with a WOW ending that will keep you guessing all through the movie and won't let you down in the end. A very south, Argentina, of the border version of "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" film about greed and deception and what it does to people effected by it. Fine acting and direction with a top flight story makes "The Nine Queens" one of the best of it's kind. The movie is so good that it's really hard to write too much about it in fear of spoiling it for those who haven't seen it. All I can say is stay with it until the final credits are rolling up the screen and don't let it's slow pace for the first 45 or so minutes or so make you turn it off the movie more then makes up for it in the end.
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