Nine Queens: An exciting, foreign movie
Is it worth watching? Yes. Really? Yes.
Nine Queens is a gripping, thrilling exciting journey through the life of two con-artists. Directed and written by Fabian Belinsky, the film takes the viewer on a tour through different scams. There are a host of exciting character roles, including a widow with her young boyfriend, a millionaire alcoholic, a somewhat puzzling sister of one of the con artists who agrees to sleep with the millionaire, and also a variety of bizarre scenes where the con-artists use their verbal dexterity to manipulate and deceive.
Nine Queens is perhaps important because it is so well-crafted. It keeps the viewer in constant suspense, and it is a film worthy of the best Hollywood noir dramas. It also shows different styles of psychological manipulation, occurring in an Argentinean city that is very much a modern, technologized western setting. It also shows the nuances in different characters, the dark side and the humorous side. Most often, the characters seem to avoid stereotypes, and they seem like real people. The film is not a clichéd statement. There are no obvious good guys and no obvious bad guys. One almost finds oneself cheering for the two con-artists to pull off their maneuvers and finally strike it rich. But the movie has a very surprising ending, where it turns out that one con-artist has simply been scheming the other one the entire time. All the bizarre characters are gathered together, and the net result is that one of the con-artist has been swindled out of $200,000 as payback for the times he has mistreated his family and friends in the past.
The film shows surprising psychological depth, and one gets a glimpse into how humans might behave under certain circumstances. Admittedly, some of the tricks were quite well-crafted, and would probably work in contemporary American culture, too. It's also interesting that the characters are motivated by self-interest alone, a characteristic intrinsic to Western capitalism. Latin America, for centuries caught in political upheaval, is now presented as a chaotic dance of inflated individualism. What's more interesting is that the characters are quite likeable, and the film is just as funny as it is entertaining. Many jokes are well-timed, and we begin to see the humor in not only these characters but in life itself.
Western civilization has from the beginning been an attempt to create order and justice out of an inherently chaotic world. This story, which unfolds in the net result of years of Western governmental developments, shows that perhaps our attempt to create a just society is laughable. There is no justice, and the legal system cannot begin to uphold the virtues it seeks to maintain. Here we have a circus, a dance of fools, and our larger society is exposed for the dark joke that it ultimately is.
The supposed integrity of characters collapses quickly. The sister of the main character is at first presented as a law-abiding ethical person who simply does not approve of her brother's trickery. She has also been extremely hurt, as his mishaps have cost her and her son a lot of money. Her son puts him on a pedestal until he is forced to tell him what he has done. A surprising twist happens, though, when the sister actually agrees to sleep with the millionaire if she might get a portion of the winnings. She goes through with it, and the viewer is mesmerized. It questions everyone's supposed ethics if given enough reason for self-interest. Self-interest and the critique of it seem to lie at the heart of this movie. It is the world we live in, now. People are less likely to fight for causes or convictions, and they are more likely to do what benefits them economically. FAbian Bielinsky has given us an entertaining and comedic window into the farce that so much of our contemporary world has become.