Nine Queens (2000) – A deliciously twisty and captivating Argentinian crime film

In this Argentinean film from director Fabian Bielinsky, Ricardo Darin plays Marcos, a sneaky con artist who spots a young fellow con artist named Juan (Gaston Pauls) at a supermarket. When one of Juan’s tricks fail badly, Marcos jumps in and rescues him out of the mess. The older and more experienced Marcos teaches Juan some of the clever tricks that he knows and in the process, learns some himself. He realizes that Juan has so much potential and that he would make a damn good partner. Juan tells him that he was forced to do this so that he can help his father, also a con artist, out of debt. Marcos is indifferent when it comes to robbing people and he wouldn’t even hesitate to rob an old woman or a sick old man. Marcos is very aware that he lacks something that Juan has: an innocent face. Very soon, a confidence scheme involving a collection of rare stamps, called the Nine Queens, is brought to their attention.

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They learn that even the counterfeit version of these stamps can fetch them a ridiculously good sum if they are successful in selling it to the highest bidder. They find a target: A rich businessman named Vidal. Vidal is currently staying at an expensive hotel where Marcos’ sister also works. This makes things complex for both of them. In addition to that, they run into several twists and turns and other complications. It’s difficult to discuss this film without revealing it’s twists so as I do in all my reviews, I won’t be ruining it for you. However, I’ll discuss it’s merits and there are plenty. The film is spearheaded by a strong performance by Ricardo Darin, who is one of my favorite actors of all the time. The man’s acting skills are second to none.  This film is virtually flawless. Darin would collaborate once again with Bielinsky on 2005’s El Aura, a dark psychological thriller which is also worth watching. Nine Queens was remade in Hollywood as Criminal, starring John C.Reilly. It’s better to ignore that one.

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