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Nine Queens (2002)
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Review Date: October 05, 2002
Director: Fabián Bielinsky
Writer: Fabián Bielinsky
Producers: Cecilia Bossi, Pablo Bossi
Actors:
Gastón Pauls as Juan
Ricardo Darín as Marcos
Leticia Brédice as Valeria
Plot:
A couple of street cons attempt to pull the wool over a rich stamp collector's eyes with their "rare" counterfeit sheet of "Nine Queens" stamps. Who's cheating who? Nobody knows. High-stakes Argentinean scamming ensues.
Critique:
If screenwriter/director/con man expert David Mamet were of Argentinean descent, this is the movie that would likely have spawned from his South American noggin. But since he is American, one who has twisted many a deceptive game in films like HOUSE OF GAMES, HEIST and THE SPANISH PRISONER, it seems as though one Fabián Bielinsky has decided to give the con men routine a shot, and succeeded almost as well as the master himself. With a couple of credible "grifters" leading the con game in Gastón Pauls and Ricardo Darín (the latter of which even resembles one of Mamet's own favorite thesps Joe Mantegna), a non-stop pace which grabbed me from the get-go all the way through its two-hour trip, plenty of twists, turns and surprises, and as per most Mamet thrillers, a twist-your-head-off-and-rewind ending...this was an all-around solid flick. It's not an action movie, it's not a "thriller" in the standard sense of the word, it's basically a game of cat-and-mouse in which two very different con men (one with no conscience and plenty of balls, the other with too much conscience and mystery) take advantage of every scam in the world on any unsuspecting person who happens to fall onto their path. The story is well developed, with a cool intro to the characters under strange circumstances, followed by plenty of credible ups and downs as we pursue the devious duo along their long day of deception.

Things get even juicier with the addition of one hot tamale by the name of Leticia Brédice, whose kick ass glass hour figure is topped only by her fiery temper. Needless to say, my next vacation will be in Argentina. Of course, what makes a film like this that much cooler is that you never really never know who is fooling who, or if anyone is really fooling anyone. Is the guy on the street "in" on it? Is the old dude "in" on it? Is the little brother "in" on it? One thing that is for sure is that the two guys are definitely not very trusting of one another, which ultimately leads us to mistrust them, which ultimately leads to...well, fun times. The director also manages to jazz up the tension by providing a nice "fly on the wall" overview of all the events along with plenty of eye-catching settings (by the way, where the heck is that gorgeous hotel located...I gotta get me a room there!) It's also the kind of film that you could easily watch one time over immediately after your first go-around, especially once everything is laid out for you by the final scene. It's not necessarily a MEMENTO-esque type of twister, but it's definitely a mind-jarrer and one that consistently kept me on the edge of my toes and ass. Seeing as many people haven't really heard of this movie (including yours truly), I would say that if you dig on David Mamet's mind tricks, if you enjoyed films like ROUNDERS and THE GRIFTERS and if you don't mind subtitles...rent this movie and enjoy!
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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