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Nine Queens

Nine Queens

The new con artist thriller from Argentina has director Fabian Bielinsky showing a deft slight of hand that would make Alfred Hitchcock and David Mamet take notice.

Nine Queens is a tricky, manipulative caper picture that some think is too much like Mamet's House of Games.  But, it doesn't go for quite the same character insights and dark irony in that indelible 1987 neat suspense with sharp dialogue which starred Joe Mantegna.

Bielinsky imparts a vibrant visual sense and works well with his cast, which includes Ricardo Darin (Son of the Bride) as Marcos.  At the start of Nine Queens, one is not privy to what he does.  But he is soon revealed to be a sly, experienced grifter looking for help for something very substantial on the horizon.

Marcos sees a younger version of himself in Juan (Gaston Pauls) who gets too cocky in his swindling at a convenience store during a shift change.  Marcos comes to his rescue impersonating a cop.

Staying away from violence and guns when necessary, Marcos is scheming dutifully to get a set of quite rare stamps worth nearly half a million, the "nine queens," from a visiting billionaire named Gandolfo (Ignasi Abadal).

The bracing twists and wit that accompany Nine Queens proves Bielinsky to be more accomplished than his oeuvre indicates.  Besides Hitchcock, he imparts touches of the late Billy Wilder, John Ford and Howard Hawks as he has fun with his alert audience.

Only some will be able to retrace what Bielinsky has put up on the screen as there are enough twists for a nimble mind to pick up. But, the intricacy pays off with more surprise than burdens as one gets into these taut, creative cons that offer something similar to US films, like The Score and Heist, in a tart overdone Mamet style confection.

Nine Queens

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