Drama Thriller

The Good Liar

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This financial thriller doesn’t lie about everything.

As I began to watch “The Good Liar,” I was derailed by its big money talk with Russian affairs and transfers. But as I continued to watch it, I was impressed by its chemistry between Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen and its last 20 minutes, which make things all too clear about their relationship.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be amused by it, because of how mixed the reviews have been on Rotten Tomatoes, but when my grandfather believed it might be interesting, I had to see it for myself, and was surprised that I liked it. It’s the actors I’ve enjoyed more than the criminals activities in Jeffrey Hatcher’s screenplay.

The movie, based on Nicholas Searle’s novel, begins with Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) and Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) meeting online and having their first date. While Betty is a widow with 2 million pounds in her savings, Roy is a conman with his business partner Vincent (Jim Carter) as his partner-in-crime. They find Betty as their next victim.

To get closer to her money, he has to fake a leg injury in order for her to let him crash with her. At the same time, Betty is terminally ill. Will that make any difference for Roy? That’s what Vincent confronts him about later in the film.

Betty’s grandson Steven (Russell Tovey) warns his grandmother that’s she trusting a man she just met with her money and love. He even reveals that Roy is actually the German translator for the real Roy Courtney, who was killed by a Nazi after the war; and he took his name to start over. Betty is still unconvinced by his debunking.

“The Good Liar” was directed by Bill Condon, who previously guided McKellen in “Gods and Monsters,” “Mr. Holmes,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” His connection with the actor, allows him to be a completely different person, and not some “X-Men” or “Lord of the Rings” icon.

In this movie, his character is evil, and just as we’re convinced he may change his ways, because of his relationship with Betty, his past proves he can’t. McKellen’s chemistry with Mirren puts the convoluted money plot out to pasture. And I also liked Tovey and Carter in their supporting roles, because of how they bring out the best of the two main characters. The acting in “The Good Liar” is fine.

The last 20 minutes of the movie, which I can’t give away for those of you who wish to see this, really make up for its weak intro. It explains things about the two main characters, and their true colors. And on a positive note: it’s not consumed by money like “The Laundromat” was, and it follows no “Dirty Rotten Scoundrel” twists like “The Hustle” did.

This is one of those “see what you think” deals. You may like it or you may find it convoluting. In my perspectives, I found it to be quite interesting.

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