the good liar

★★★

DIRECTOR: bill condon (beauty and the beast, mr. holmes)
STARRING: helen mirren, ian mckellan, russell tovey, and jim carter

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

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.

Mirren and McKellan. Two of the most outstanding actors of their generations in a film together. How can you not want to see it?

 

Career con artist Roy Courtnay can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish online. As Betty opens her life and home 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.

 

I love a good con story. Paul Newman and Robert Redford's classic The Sting, Clooney and co.'s Ocean films, and the BBC's highly underrated TV series Hustle; all great tales of hustlers who trick, fool, and utterly bamboozle their targets to get the cash. But unfortunately in The Good Liar the con is not quite on.

 

The Good Liar soars exactly where you'd expect it to: in the acting department. Mirren and McKellan are masterful and in every single scene together they duel for your undivided attention, perfectly bouncing off one another in a divine dance of acting mastery. Russell Tovey and Jim Carter are also welcome and quite wonderful editions to the cast. 

 

But it's the story that slightly lets the side down. After seeing the trailer you go into this film expecting a tense thriller but instead you get a more domestic tale with some thrillery bits tacked on here and there. It's almost like it's a film that can't make up its mind what type of movie it really is. It leaves the dramatic conclusion of the film landing like dull thud instead of an emotional gut punch. 

 

Worth the price of a ticket alone to see the magnificent Mirren and McKellan at play but The Good Liar is a film that can't quite decide if it's a thriller or a domestic drama.

★★★

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