April 24, 2002


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'Nine Queens'

Con heir

ARGENTINA'S MOST SUCCESSFUL homegrown feature in years is this clever and accomplished caper movie, which writer-director Fabián Bielinsky pulls off like a less cold-blooded David Mamet or Claude Chabrol. Always looking to milk others for whatever they've got, veteran con artist Marcos (Ricardo Darín of Son of the Bride, also currently in theaters) saves younger, petty swindler Juan (Gastón Pauls) from potential arrest, in return inviting the kid to participate in some larger-stakes schemes. The tentative partnership proves useful when a huge prize falls into their laps: the chance to sell a forged set of extremely rare stamps. As matters proceed, Juan turns out to be not quite as green as he looks, unscrupulous Marcos rather less Teflon-shelled, and the latter's straight-arrow sister Valeria (Leticia Brédice) a not-unwilling collaborator given the right circumstances. Shot in a sleek Buenos Aires of high-end hotels and corporate headquarters, this wryly tricksome tale of power reversals, betrayals, and dangerous bluffs comes complete with the requisite last-lap, 180-degree plot twist. (Dennis Harvey)