Ricardo Darin, Gaston Pauls, Leticia Bredice, Ignasi Abadal
The trickiest part of making a film about con-men is that your audience goes into it knowing there will be double-dealing. It's like a game of chess: the director (and perhaps more importantly, the writer) has always to be one step ahead of the audience. Bielinsky manages this with ease, delivering something which is more crisp and sharp than anything David Mamet has done since The Spanish Prisoner. The themes are similar: Juan (Pauls) is a low-rent swindler, who comes under the wing of Marcos (Darin), a more experienced con-artist who is about to have the job of a lifetime fall into his lap. But who is going to be the victim? These twists are largely held back for the second half of the film. The first is more leisurely, yet equally entertaining, and could almost be a primer for would-be confidence tricksters, with schemes which are breathtaking in their audacity and simplicity. Darin steals the movie, as a man so focussed, he'll even prostitute his own sister to clinch the deal, while Pauls has an open-face and honest demeanour, suggesting butter wouldn't melt in his mouth...not if he could sell it on at a profit. Some of the twists are uniquely South American, but otherwise, while you may often think you're a step ahead of the film, like any good con-game, it's always two further in front of you.