Words Wal Reid
Every now and then there is a film that leaves you with a smile on your face. A sense of satisfaction that leaves you wanting, thinking out loud, “That was a good watch”.
The Good Liar is that film. Based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Searle, it stars the impeccable Ian McKellen as a crafty career con artist who meets a wealthy widow (Helen Mirren) online, and then discovers that his plan to steal her fortune has unexpected roadblocks.
McKellen is brilliant as the cantankerous, wispy grey-haired con artist Roy Courtnay, even to the point you want to poke his eyes out with your fingers. Helen Mirren as Betty McLeish, plays a former history teacher at Oxford who lost her husband and has a considerable amount of savings, thus, becoming Roy’s latest target.
Mirren assumes her usual regal posture. She is astutely wooden with that shrewd gaze as if hiding a secret. It’s a delicious coupling that holds the mystery until the end. Actually, have to say that openly gay McKellen is also convincing playing her love interest. Such is the high calibre of acting, he turns in a sterling performance that keeps the viewer glued to the silver screen, guessing what his next move will entail.
Director Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast) does a fantastic job of holding together the film’s pathos, delving to dark places during the World War II scenes and keeping the enigma of the characters intact until its reveal. It’s a compelling watch. If you like a good British thriller with the usual tripe; comedy, intrigue and a solid cast, including Jim Carter aka Mr Carson from Downton Abbey and Russell Tovey from the BBC/HBO black comedy Years and Years, then you will simply adore this film. That’s no lie.