Quick Thoughts: Nine Queens (2000)
Made by Fabián Bielinsky, Nine Queens, or, Nueve Reinas, is the Argentinian film of the series.
**A CHANCE OF SPOILERS***
Nine Queens is an immense crime thriller and, in a certain sense, heist film. With a perfect script, some good direction and some great acting, this film brilliantly balances plot and character to take you on a exhilarating ride. But, what really struck me when watching Nine Queens was the intense plotting. Without spoiling anything, this film is about two swindlers trying to sell some incredibly rare stamps as to get rich quick. In such, it intermittently teases you in a whodunit fashion as you question where the next turn or double-cross is coming from. I have to admit that I guessed the final twist in the first 10 minutes, but what this script does so well is feed you so many different possibilities and hunches. So, whilst I did correctly presume the final twist, I also had about 3 or 4 hunches at the back of my mind too – all of which fell subservient to the actual experience of watching the film unfold. Nine Queens then serves as something of a tutorial on how to approach plot-heavy films and keep an audience invested in the present moment instead of thinking about the next beat or conclusion.
The second you establish your narrative as one with themes of betrayal and crime, an audience is immediately fighting to be 10 steps ahead of you. To combat this, you can constantly mislead your audience, having them think that the culprit is one person one moment and another the next – essentially having them question themselves, not just the film. You see this in a vast plethora of whodunits, however, this isn’t exactly what Nine Queens does. Whilst it reminds you of the fact that someone may betray someone throughout the narrative, the core theme overshadowing this is chance itself – and chance is the primary antagonist of conspiracy. In such, we are often made to think that there may not be a ploy between the two main characters, instead, that they are both stumbling from random one event after another, their physical conflicts insurmountable – all of which keeps you focused on their struggles and so the character side of the narrative.
The plot of Nine Queens then serves as both a distraction to the characters and audience, giving it such a strong sense of pacing and energy. But, what truly elevates this film above the average thick-plot crime thriller, is the manner in which this deceptive plot adds subtext to the characters’ personas. This then raises themes of comeuppance whilst formulating a commentary on the idea that ‘everyone out there is trying to fuck you over’.
However, I really don’t want to spoil this movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it – even though I probably have already. So, my final words are that Nine Queens was a fiercely entertaining movie that I’m curious to watch again to see if the plot holds strong. But, I turn things over to you. Have you see this movie? What are your thoughts?
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