The Good Liar (2019)

The Good Liar (2019)

Movie Details

Movie: The Good Liar (2019)
Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, and Russell Tovey
Movie Genres: Thriller/Crime
Release date: 15 November 2019
IMDB Rating: 6.7/10
Languages: English, German, Russian, French, and Spanish
Duration: 1h 49m


The Good Liar (2019)


When two acting icons of the stature of Ian McKellen and Dame Helen Mirren come together in one film, it naturally raises high expectations. These are acting aces, whose performance would be interesting even in the most poorly written role in a second-rate TV series. Add to them the proven director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Beauty and the Beast), who has already managed to shoot a lot with McKellen (Gods and Monsters, Mr. Holmes), and a plot benefiting from the novel of the same name by Nicholas Searle about an old con man who is about to attack your latest booty, and you get a top-notch Oscar-contending drama. Or is it not quite the case and something fundamentally went wrong?

Eighty-year-old charming Roy (McKellen) is the epitome of a nice old man who knows how to enjoy the autumn of life in a puffer jacket and tweed back. And since, despite his advanced age, he can also turn on a computer and find an acquaintance through an Internet dating site, he encounters the widowed Betty (Mirren) during the opening credits, who not only wants to make acquaintances but is also relatively well equipped for it. And it’s her property that attracts Roy the most – it’s a cunning conman who, with a few cronies, robs whoever he can of money. For him, Betty represents his dream jackpot, thanks to which he will be able to spend the rest of his life on a beach in the Caribbean with a cocktail in hand. At the same time, only one thing seems to stand in his way – his suspicious grandson Stephen, who asks too many questions and digs into historical sources more than is healthy.

The plot of the film benefits from the events that happened during the Second World War, which adds a popular dimension to the secrets buried deep in the past. But compared to the book, where the reader can get to know the entire rich history of Roy’s criminal acts and where historical flashbacks complete a comprehensive picture of what Roy is, the dusty secret in the film represents an all-too-much deus ex machina, which in its outcome is not even shocking way, nor emotionally enough – and becomes essentially an unnecessary appendage to a largely traditional story about a con artist whose final ruse starts to get ugly out of hand. This conceptual emptiness of a film adaptation of a multi-layered novel feels like an ice shower after a promising opening that doesn’t leave you until the very end.

I’m not a fanatical fan of literal film adaptations who can write threatening anonymous letters to authors because of a change in hair color, but in the case of The Perfect Lie, I can’t help but feel that screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher (Casanova, The Duchess) took too little from the novel. Certainly, his intention to focus on Roy’s last job and give enough space to develop his relationship with Betty is easy to see. However, the subsequent denouement and revelation of Roy’s true nature (and origin) simply goes slightly beyond the viewer’s interest. The entire second act suffers from this, and watching the central duo move from one dialogue to another in complex screenwriting loops does not add to the final impression. And it’s a great pity because both actors in the central roles perform exactly what one expects from them. McKellen’s Roy, in particular, is the epitome of cruel calculation, and his transitions between nice old man and cold-blooded badass are equal parts fascinating and chilling. Mirren, on the other hand, is the epitome of silver-haired innocence, so much so that you secretly hope Roy isn’t the badass the script makes him out to be after all. Watching this couple interact with each other is the biggest asset of the entire film.

Watch For Free On Filmy4Wap

And that’s the problem – watching 109 minutes of two phenomenal actors acting together can be ideal for a film adaptation of a classic by William Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde. However, it is simply not enough for a crime drama about a con man with a mysterious past, and the dysfunctional story side of the film naturally knocks the acting efforts of the main protagonists down several notches. At the same time, it would be enough to free up more space for the events of the Second World War (or even from other decades, as in the book) and for all the time planes to intertwine sufficiently with each other as dictated by the rules of building tension, and the viewer would immediately be drawn into the plot in eager anticipation of the final denouement. However, the bet on a linear narrative did not work out in this case, and the conclusion itself seems too contrived.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top