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article imageReview: ‘The Good Liar’ is a tricky film that doesn’t always fool viewers Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Dec 8, 2019 in Entertainment
‘The Good Liar’ is a thriller in which a conman believes he’s found a retirement score, but she’s going to make him work for it.
The elderly are often targets of scams as their potential loneliness and lesser understanding of technology or finances can make them vulnerable to people waiting in the wings to take advantage. It’s an unfortunate reality that can lend itself to interesting fiction, particularly when marriage is involved. Younger people are often characterized as gold-diggers when they become romantically attached to much older, well-off widows/widowers. However, The Good Liar proposes money can be a motivating factor at any age.
Roy (Ian McKellen) and Betty (Helen Mirren) find each other via a dating app. Neither was entirely truthful about their bad habits, but they find they enjoy each other’s company nonetheless. Betty’s grandson, Stephen (Russell Tovey), is happy she’s made a new friend, but is less excited when their relationship moves at an accelerated pace. Before he knows it, Roy has moved into the guest room, and is encouraging Betty to work with his investor who offers the brilliant advice of combining their assets for lower interest and greater returns. Stephen’s suspicions are, of course, valid as Roy is a con man who believes he’s hooked a big fish.
Having expectations for a movie can sometimes be its and your worst enemy. Therefore, it’s unfortunate when the film’s trailer sets up the picture to be something it’s not or ruins a plot element meant to be a twist. If you can, avoid the trailer for this movie as a cold watch would undoubtedly be more enjoyable than viewing the whole film waiting for the other shoe to drop. In addition, it gives away one of the picture’s few very intense moments outside of the ending. Of course, anything in the trailer can be determined by a discerning viewer, but part of the fun is figuring it out for yourself.
Mirren and McKellen make wonderful companions, even as both seem to be trying to keep up appearances. There’s often small lies and omissions at the start of relationships, but both these characters are hiding more than a couple of vices. However, the movie may have played somewhat better if Mirren was directed to have a straighter poker face throughout the picture. Instead, her expressions between interactions with Roy imply there’s more to the story, which nurtures the same unfulfilled suspense as the trailer.
The film grows more interesting as it progresses and audiences learn more about Roy. Though the shroud of mystery surrounding Betty becomes both intriguing and irritating as time goes on. Nonetheless, it’s impeccably acted, even if some of Bill Condon’s direction feels misguided.
Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen and Russell Tovey
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