Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Good Liar: A Different Kind of Whodunnit

Movie Review: The Good Liar (2019)
Version: Library borrow

The Good Liar surprised me. I thought it was a story about a grifter trying to con a lovely elderly lady who would grow to love her and find romance in old age. It turned out to be quite a different kind of story -- a whodunnit with a twist -- and a good one at that.

Oh, Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) is a grifter, indeed. He starts right out from the beginning showing us how he interests his targets into the con, then brilliantly cheats them out of it. Vincent (Jim Carter) is his accomplice. But Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) is something altogether different. She seems innocent enough in her unremarkable beige retirement flat, eagerly sharing her home with the occasionally gimpy Roy and falling in love, letting slip details of her savings of around 500,000 pounds, and defending him from the suspicions of her protective grandson Stephen (Russel Tovey), who is skeptical of Roy's admiration and intentions. But the story takes a strange turn when Roy invites his financial adviser Vincent who augustly suggests they share an investment account. At first Betty is reluctant to go in together, but Roy shows his trust in her and invests all his 7 million-plus pounds of funds into the account and so she equally throws in her 3 million-plus pounds in and it seems like a shared account made in heaven. Until it isn't.

It is here that the story takes on twists and turns and a dark side you won't see coming. Some of the plot is a bit hard to swallow. But if you will suspend your disbelief for just a short while longer, and trust the writer and director and actors a tiny bit more, you will enjoy the outcome, I assure you.

As a British film, The Good Liar will take its sweet time getting to the end. As with most British films it is slight on the flash and heavy on the characters. McKellen and Mirren have been charming audiences in major roles for decades. They are in their finest in these roles as two masterful foes one against the other and, finally, in a charade against the expectations of the audience here. This is a whodunit where no one gets killed and the big question is, who eventually will be had? You won't see it coming till the end. But it's worth the wait.

I wouldn't say this is a must-see film, but I would say The Good Liar is a worth-see. Good family entertainment for older teens and up who like mysteries with a bit of cheeky fun.

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