“If you love Mirren and McKellen, I wouldn’t miss The Good Liar, as their performances are always good.”
The Good Liar pairs Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen in what purports to be a twisty cat-mouse thriller. The two actors are by far the most thrilling part of the film, as there’s not much of a thriller to be seen. The performances though are quite enjoyable and the pairing is one that brings an otherwise bland con-game to life on screen. This film, directed by Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast) brings Nicholas Searles’ novel to life; however, I think it may have unfolded better page after page in a nice reading nook than in a dark theater over two hours.
McKellen plays Roy, an old but somehow charming con-man out to swindle whomever he can in scam after scam. You can tell he lives for the con, the chase, the trap and the win rather than the money he is getting in his exploits. His latest scheme is a Dirty-John-Esque ploy to meet a woman online, get her to merge funds and then drain the account. Enter Betty played by Mirren in almost perfect form. She was a true delight to watch. Betty is unsuspecting and brilliant and invites Roy into her life much to the dismay of her grandson, Stephen (played by Russell Tovey). And so the game begins.
Viewers know that there will be twists. The preview sets up that there will be twists that the con man more than likely gets conned, but there are plenty of unsuspecting turns that come out of nowhere. The build-up is let down in this film. There’s a pay-off for sure, but the unsuspecting manner at which it’s delivered left me more bewildered than satisfied.
With the run time at 1:49, the film had over an hour to build a proper storyline with bread crumbs that would lead up to the final show dropping. It just didn’t put the pieces in place and ultimately felt rushed in the one moment it needed to slow down.
It wasn’t a bust but it definitely didn’t boom for me. If you love Mirren and McKellen, I wouldn’t miss it as their performances are always good, but together they outshine the plot.