Nine Queens

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Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Ricardo Darin, Gastón Pauls, Graciela Tenembaum

Director: Fabian Bielinsky

If you enjoy David Mamet / Paul Auster type plots based around coincidence, chance and small time crime – this is one for you. Argentinian director Fabian Bielinsky’s first feature film deals with the interplay between two crooks on the streets of Buenos Aires. In a dreary economic climate – many people in the city are on the lookout to make a quick buck – but Marcos (Ricardo Darin) and Juan (Gastón Pauls) have the knack for swindling and mendacity rattling through their bones. Juan, the elder of the two, picks up on a bill-changing trick Marcos is trying to pull in a city convenience store. He offers Marcos an opportunity to learn some more urbane tricks by accompanying him around the city for a day.

As the two duck and dive around town, they find out about a sophisticated job which involves switching a collection of Weimar Republic stamps – the Nine Queens – with a set of very convincing fakes. There’s a lot of money at stake if they can pull off the stunt – but with experts, hotel staff, artists and businessman all looking out for their own necks – and share of any profit – it’s difficult to know who to trust. And ultimately when you’re both a couple of crooks it’s unlikely you’re going to trust each other. When Marcos’s sister becomes involved – Valeria (Leticia Bredice) an attractive maitre d at the BA Hilton – who puts honour above profit, it looks like the job might get messed up at the very last minute.

Although the themes of trust and truth are usually compelling, neither Juan nor Marcos are particularly engaging characters – though both Darin and Pauls are clearly fine actors. And for the screenplay itself, I’m sure much of the interesting wordplay was lost in the sub-title translation.

2 out of 6 stars