Cat Burglars in Mendoza: Wine For Stealing

Daniel Hendler and Valeria Bertuccelli as an army of two.

By contributing blogger Benjamín Harguindey

This is probably the genre Argentine cinema does best – con movies. Unlike the much beloved Nine Queens (Nueve reinas, 2000), which involved petty criminals and their petty scamming, “Vino Para Robar”is a Hitchcockian kind of caper film, set in the exotic vineyards of Mendoza and starring a couple of high-end cat burglars who take turns romancing each other and the MacGuffins they’re after.

The movie’s original title, Vino para robar, might be translated as either “Wine For Stealing” or “Came to Steal”. The leads are Daniel Hendler and Valeria Bertuccelli, who are your go-to actors whenever you want to cast a character both jovial and world-weary, and here they’re perfectly matched against each other. The film begins with them conning one another, but soon they’re forced to team up by a ruthless businessman who enlists the duo to hijack a vault containing a rare and precious wine bottle hailing from Napoleon’s own cellar.

Cue recon surveillance, some team-building, a comic relief sidekick with an internet connection (Martín Piroyansky), one lonely yet determined cop hounding the thieves (Pablo Rago in one of those thankless roles), lots of suiting up in disguise, one fancy evening ball, lots and lots of good luck and suspension of disbelief, and the core robbery, with one or two twists thrown in for good measure. You can see the whole journey miles away, but it’s a fun ride nonetheless.

Ridiculous as the premise may sound, this is by no means a parody, but rather a straight genre send-up, sarcasm-free and lovingly written by newcomer Adrián Garelik (his first original screenplay) and directed by Ariel Winograd, whose film debut Cheesehead (Cara de queso ‘mi primer guetto’, 2006) has since gained massive cult following and was followed by the successful My First Wedding (Mi primera boda, 2011) – both starring Hendler. Winograd has an affinity for creating hyperrealistic, slightly cartoonish worlds and here he excels in building them up with vibrant photography and an impressive production design. It’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek, old school kind of movie.

The movie’s been produced locally, mainly through Winograd’s head production company Tres Planos Cine (with Disney handling distribution). It premiered August 1st, and so far it’s grossed a little under $5 million at the box office with over 100,000 spectators. We hope this means more films will be made in the sun-kissed province of Mendoza, which has been promoting itself as a film destination.

Here’s a link to Tres Planos’ web page:
http://www.tresplanos.com/

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