Nine Queens

Neuve reinas

Year: 2001
Country: Argentina
Running time: 115 mins
Screenplay: Fabián Bielinsky
Production co: Patagonik Film Group
Producer: Pablo Bossi
Photography: Marco Camorino
Editor: Sergio Zottola
Production Designer: Daniela Passalaqua
Costume Designer: Monica Toschi
Sound: Osvaldo Vacca
Music: César Lerner
In Spanish with English subtitles

Marcos: Ricardo Darín
Juan: Gastón Pauls
Valeria: Leticia Brédice
Federico: Tomás Fonzi
Vidal Gandolfo: Ignasi Abadal

Festivals: New Directors/New Films, Toronto, London 2001
An experienced grifter takes a younger confrere under his wing for the theft of a block of stamps called the ‘Nine Queens’ in Fabian Bielinsky’s caper-within-a-caper debut film, which runs as smoothly as a well-rehearsed con. The premise, indeed the whole movie, is held together only by surface tension, yet that tension is skillfully and humorously maintained throughout. The pace is brisk and the rhythm unforced, and the dialogue jogs companionably alongside the plot’s snaky twists and turns. The actors are charismatic, particularly Ricardo Darín as the pro whose blend of charm and desperation plays well against the wide-eyed earnestness of his partner Gastón Pauls and the squadron of street-smart characters the two pick up along the way. Widely hailed in Argentina as proof that homegrown products can compete with American studio fare, Nine Queens’ ability to breathe new life into old Hollywood chestnuts lies paradoxically in its Argentinean rhythms and savvily casual-looking locations, from corner bodegas to luxury high-rises. — Ronnie Schieb, Chicago Reader

David Mamet might kill for a script as good as the one that fuels Nine Queens. A seductively structured and superbly acted suspenser that breathtakingly piles swindle upon scam without giving away the game until the very end, Fabien Bielinsky’s debut feature has been the biggest smash in its native Argentina in at least a decade… Longtime assistant director Bielinsky got the chance to make his film when he bested 350 competitors in a screenplay competition for which the top prize was production funding for the winning script. It is the scenario that gives this thoroughly assured work its greatest distinction, but in every respect Bielinsky reveals the instincts of a filmmaker keen to please through clever dramatic manipulation that respects, rather than insults, the audience’s intelligence. — Todd McCarthy, Variety, 9/9/01