Career con artist Roy Courtnay can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish online. As Betty opens her home and life to him, Roy is surprised to find himself caring about her, turning what should be a cut-and-dry swindle into the most treacherous tightrope walk of his life.
‘The Good Liar’, bad title aside, is a film that I was interested in from the minute I saw the trailer. A pulpy psychological thriller starring two British acting greats in Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Helen Mirren is right up my street and I’m glad to say the film mostly lived up to my expectations. Set in London a decade or so ago, the film follows two widowers who meet each other online, one of whom is hiding their real motivation for trying out online dating.
McKellen plays Roy Courtnay, a career con-artist who uses deception and multiple aliases to steal from others alongside his business partner, Vincent (Jim Carter). His latest gambit is to target wealthy widows through online dating websites, and Betty (Helen Mirren) seems an ideal victim for this scheme. She’s wealthy, ill and vulnerable having recently lost her husband, and Roy has enough charisma to work his way into her heart. Her grandson (Russell Tovey) is openly sceptical and represents a spanner in the works of Roy’s plans, but not enough to prevent Betty falling prey to Roy’s subtle machinations. McKellen’s performance as Roy is great fun to watch, as we see him switch from the kind old widower to the crafty criminal in almost the blink of an eye, and more than that, it’s clear he’s having fun playing the role. The plotting does become increasingly convoluted and absurd as we move towards the final act but I was on board for all of the twists and turns, helped by the sparkling chemistry between McKellen and Mirren who are on top form throughout.
I liked ‘The Good Liar’ a lot and it’s a joy every time McKellen and Mirren are on screen, dancing around each other and their characters true motibations. It does start to become more outlandish as it layers on more and more plot and backstory, but the performances keep you invested and this was a very enjoyable outing to the cinema.
Directed By: Bill Condon
Starring: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Russell Tovey, Jim Carter, Lucian Msamati and Mark Lewis Jones