By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Based on the novel of the same title by Nicholas Searle, screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher and director Bill Condon craft a genuinely enthralling cinematic thriller which can boast superb performances by lead actors Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren. As the movie progresses, a certain amount of transparency does develop, but the storytellers still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Though this film probably won’t earn any awards next year, The Good Liar still offers audiences a twisty and delectable serving of thrills and awe.
Ian McKellen stars as Roy Courtnay, a charming and disarming veteran con-artist who has acquired wealth through various confidence schemes. Courtnay is initially introduced as a lonely widower seeking companionship via on-line dating. He and the equally lonely Betty McLeish (Mirren) connect through a dating website and find themselves compatible as friends. Courtnay’s intentions soon become apparent as he pursues a more intimate relationship through a financial partnership. Though Betty’s concerned grandson Steven (Russell Tovey) sternly warns her about letting Roy getting too close, the amiable lady dismisses her grandson’s concerns in favor of what her heart wants.
Though the film is guilty of a certainly level of predictability, I still found myself so intrigued with the story and characters that I remained invested. This comes, of course, from the solid writing by Searle and Hatcher in addition to the great direction by Condor. The Good Liar still retains enough secrets that once all is revealed, the end result is ultimately satisfying. It is an enthralling journey that is entertaining and quite suspenseful.
Condor probably could not have completely pulled this off with just any decent lead actors. Casting both Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren in these roles can either be labeled as a stroke of genius or a no-brainer. Perhaps it was simply timing or luck. Either way, both McKellen and Mirren are absolutely perfect for these characters and have the talents to really sell this drama. They both share a wonderful chemistry that makes the relationship transcend fiction.
And even though the movie is not exactly the type of film that normally fills sears at the multiplex, The Good Liar is such an enjoyable and exciting movie that anyone who should buy a seat should be happy with that purchase. It is definitely a movie tailor-made for fans of McKellen and Mirren and it is a wonderful showcase of their acting talents.