In Argentina's answer to "The Sting," an expert con man named Marcos (Ricardo Darin) enlists a less experienced swindler, Juan (Gastón Pauls), to be his accomplice in a series of low-yield street scams. Their elevation to the big time comes via a phony set of Weimar Republic postage stamps, which the conniving pair schemes to unload on a soon-to-be-deported Spanish collector at an agreed-upon price of "450 grand." As the deal develops, distrust festers between the two partners, establishing an atmosphere of suspicion that extends to a supporting cast of shifty middlemen, appraisers and thieves. Even Marcos' sister (Leticia Bredice), an outwardly "straight" hotel employee, may have a stake or two in the outcome of the sale.
Writer/director Fabián Bielinsky does good work laying the groundwork for doubt, but as the mounting obstacles to the handoff of the stamps become less and less believable, we can sense him straying ever farther from a sensible and satisfying resolution. Unable to commit to one of the scenarios of subterfuge he has posited, he tries to explore them all. The result is a clear case of too many crooks spoiling the soup.