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Wed July 31, 2002
...nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted.
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
I have never seen a film as relentlessly uncompromising about the allure, power, and banality of the con game as I have seen in the Argentine "Nine Queens." From the opening sequence where small-time grifter Juan pulls a $20 switch at a convenience store to the final scam that looks like "House of Cards" and "The Sting" welded onto "Hard Eight," nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted.
More recently think of "Sexy Beast," "The Heist," and "The Score." However, this is pure David Mamet territory, where buddies keep one eye on the target and the other on the buddy.
In the current "Enron" environment, no surprise at the allegorical suggestion of this film that trust is a rare commodity these days, banks are vulnerable (consider the Argentinean economy), and lame goddess Nemesis may never catch up with some of business's most egregious con artists, from CEO's to salespeople.
The film's pace is quick, like the hands of 3-card Monte; emotional involvement either on the screen or in the audience is minimal; everyone has a moment of triumph and defeat. Even beauty has its deceptive moment when Leticia Bredice, as the sister of other con artist Marcos, struts her stuff in the hotel lobby.
"Nine Queens" won 7 awards from the Argentinean Film Critics Association. I'm betting that's not a con.
John DeSando co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time" and vice chairs the board of The Film Council of Greater Columbus.