Director: Fabián Bielinsky
Year: 2000 Runtime: 115 minutes
Rating: Rated R for language
IMDB rating: 7.8/10 Tomatometer: 93%
Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens) is one of the great films to come out of the Argentine cinema. It’s sort of like a heist film that keeps you guessing and on your toes. The story takes place in Buenos Aires and starts off one early morning with seemingly coincidental meeting. Juan, a con artist, is attempting a bill changing scam at a local gas station. After successfully pulling it off, he notices the clerks changing shifts, so he decides to push his luck and try it again. This time though, he gets caught.
Also in the gas station is Marcos who intervenes, shows his gun, and claims to be a cop and that he’ll take care of the situation. He ushers Juan out of the gas station and the two go for a walk.
Back on the street, Marcos reveals to Juan that it’s his lucky day because he happens to be a seasoned swindler himself and he just saved Juan from a trip to jail. Marcos, having recently lost his partner in crime, sees this as an opportunity to recruit and mentor Juan. The two spend the next few hours pulling off cons around town.
They settle down for some breakfast when Marco’s sister, Valeria, furiously calls him because one of Marco’s old “business associates” (also literally old) is causing a scene at the hotel where she works. When Marco and Juan arrive and meet with the old con, they are presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity for a big score. The old con has produced his finest forgery yet, a counterfeit copy of the “Nine Queens”, a set of rare and extremely valuable stamps.
Marco and Juan are informed that an infamous business man and rare stamp collector is staying at the hotel and to flee the country the next day. They have less than 24 hours to figure out how to gain access and convince him to buy the fakes. And so, the story is in place.
As the scheme unfolds, the two con men encounter a continuous series of shady characters. Their plan unravels and they are forced to improvise. The film becomes layered with negotiations, deceptions, and seemingly coincidental happenings. It becomes increasingly difficult to decipher exactly who is conning who, and that’s the fun of the movie.
It is an extremely fast paced sometimes funny, crime thriller. The entire movie takes place within a 24 hour period. Nueve Reinas is pretty light and highly entertaining. I recommend it as an enjoyable way to improve your Spanish.