Nueve reinas (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

If you like films like Mamet's "House of Games", "Heist", and "Spanish Prisoner", and the other rightful descendants of that grandaddy of con movies, "The Sting", then this is your kind of film, with maybe a hint of "The Usual Suspects" thrown in for atmosphere.



In fact, it is possible to argue that "Nine Queens" is better than those films in many ways, because it has more than just the complex, indecipherable scam. It also takes great pains to develop both the characters and the local atmosphere of Buenos Aires. The Argentine critics said it was a masterful depiction of real, recognizable Argentine types. I don't know about that, but I know the characters were colorful and funny, the two main characters were interesting, and I don't remember any Argentine movie ever making such a stir in the USA and the UK. The reviews for this film were as good as any in the past two years - and that was just from critics who write in the English language! That's impressive for a film they watched with subtitles.

Two small-time grifters, guys who don't know one another, get paired up on what could be the score of a lifetime by their standards. Their original quest is to sell some counterfeit stamps to a wealthy Spanish visitor, but the con seems to get more and more complicated as they go along, and they have to improvise new cons. Or do they? 

The sting itself is layered so deeply, filled with so many possibilities, that the real scam is quite invisible. I figured out parts of it, but not all. About halfway through the film, it becomes apparent that at least one of the partners is trying to cheat the other, but it is not apparent who is pulling the strings, and why, and how many people are involved, or if someone else is trying to rip them both off. Once the explanation is shown, it makes good sense, and even the motivation of the characters is sensible. Because of the nature of the genre, I really can't tell you anything else.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic, 1.85

  • the ads say that there is a "making of" featurette, but there is none on the Region 1 DVD

I am a sucker for this kind of film. Complicated stings provide my filmgoing guilty pleasure, so I enjoyed the hell out of Nine Queens despite the Argentine slang and many nuances of dialect which were way beyond me. If you speak Spanish you should really like it, and if you're actually from Argentina, you've probably already seen it.

The Critics Vote

  • Roger Ebert 3/4

  • UK consensus: three stars. Daily Mail 5/10, Independent 7/10, Guardian 6/10, Observer 7/10, Times 8/10, Evening Standard 9/10, Sun 8/10, Express 8/10, BBC 4/5

  • The film was nominated for ten awards by the Argentine academy, and won seven.


The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 7.5/10, Guardian voters 7.7/10
  • with their dollars: made for a ultra-modest $1.5 million dollars, (it looks much better) it grossed more than $10 million in Argentina, and has done fairly well in Spain, the UK, and the States.


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. One of the five best "sting" movies I have seen, filled with local color and wit as well as the obligatory complexities of the con.

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