Nine Queens (2002): Bielinsky’s Twisty, Enjoyable Noir Thriller from Argentina

Clever and suspenseful, Nine Queens is an endlessly twisty—and vastly enjoyable–tale of deceit very much in the mode of David Mamet’s plays and scripts.

The plot begins when Juan is pulling a bill-switching scheme in a deli when Marcos, an apparently innocent bystander, pretends to whisk him off to the police.

Nothing is what it seems to be. Turns out that Marcos is a con artist, helping out a new recruit. He persuades Juan to join him in what promises to be a richer, brighter future for them.  Initially, Juan is skeptical, but he agrees to work with Marcos after the latter impresses him with some subtle cons.

Turning point occurs when an old time con man enlists Juan and Marcos to sell a forged set of valuable rare stamps–The Nine Queens. The tricky negotiations that ensue involve all kinds of shifty and suspicious characters, including Marcos’ beautiful sister Valeria, their innocent younger brother Frederico, who idolizes Marcus, as well as some other thieves and conmen.

The stakes—and risks—get considerably bigger as the action moves from humble barrios to luxury hotels.

Shrewdly written and directed by Argentinian Fabian Bielinsky with assured confidence, Nine Queens is an engaging noir thrillers that continues to surprise with its twists and turns, resulting in a fun experience and one of the 2002’s highlights of foreign language films.