The combination of two senior British actors, Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren, should promise an interesting spectacle. Plus, with the frills lifted from a novel that has been successful in the market first, the film The Good Liar makes people curious.
The film opens with the encounter of two seniors in a cafe after a brief affair through an online matchmaking agency. Roy (Ian McKellen) who at the first meeting with Betty (Helen Mirren) admits he doesn’t like lies, turns out to be an accomplished fraud in the financial sector. And it looks like he’s got a soft and fat prey this time.
Betty, unexpectedly by Roy is a rich widow and seems innocent enough to be deceived. With the help of his cronies, Roy plots a trap with a large bait to squeeze Betty out of her cider, and it seems the only obstacle is Steven (Russel Tovey) the grandson who seems suspicious of him.
Two senior actors who are still shining
Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren really bring their characters to life in this film. If you’re anything like me who remembers Mckellen as Gandalf, then you’d be surprised how well he played the brutal Roy character here. Plus Mirren, the film becomes very enjoyable to enjoy regardless of other aspects of the film.
The acting duet of the two will invite the audience to enjoy the art of acting and the interaction/dynamics of their two characters rather than thinking and guessing the plot and storyline. That’s what I usually do when watching thriller films, especially when the characters aren’t very lively.
Minimal action but still interesting.
Successful screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher presents a plot and storyline that is not boring despite the minimal action of an old premise: the deceiver and his victims. The layered and unpredictable plot makes the film not boring even though the story is built a bit slow in the beginning.
Director Bill Condon, who has worked with Jeffrey Hatcher in Mr Holmes, successfully displays interesting visualizations for every major part of the plot. Random viewers will be transported to the time when the Nazis were still in power, shortly after the collapse, and the state of the city of Berlin today. The provision of unique colors in each era succeeded in creating an original feel for the audience.
After a very interesting and delicious film, unfortunately the climax of this film feels a bit awkward and too sweet for a thriller. Making The Good Liar feel more like a “feels good” type film like Wonder (2017). Moreover, many parts of the background of the two main characters are not told. If those parts are told of course the film will be longer and maybe boring, but it will provide a different depth and more understanding for the audience to understand the characters and the choices made by these two characters.
On the other hand, this feeling of awkwardness and dissatisfaction aroused the desire to read the original novel as a comparison. This alone made The Good Liar a success as a marketing vehicle for Nicholas Searle’s original novel.