The Good Liar

The English have always been quite successful in producing exceptional mysteries. Stories that have held the audience captive until the very last moment when the path of discovery enlightens us with the resolution. We all love to guess who done it and why. This movie provides the audience with a beautifully told tale of the long con.

Roy Courtenay (Ian McKellen) is a con man. He’s been a master at the game for decades. Between him and his partner, Victor (Jim Carter, most recent from Downton Abbey), They have run many elaborate investment cons for years. Roy had set up a new mark to take advantage of, a rather well-off widow, Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren). Betty’s husband had passed a year ago and she had put out a dating profile looking for companionship. She meets Roy and proceeds to enter a friendship that includes caring for Roy as he goes through some physical challenges.

We meet Betty’s only grandson Steven (Russel Tovey, George, the Werewolf, in Being Human) who is quite suspicious of how quickly Roy had moved in with his grandmother and is very concerned for his grandmother’s well-being. As observers, we watch Roy play the long game in this con. We already had been shown how ruthless Roy could be towards his victims and we steadily grow more concerned with each moment she steps towards the trap.

We watch, anticipating the long game that Roy is playing while he wraps up another investment scheme with two other victims. He, along with his partner, Victor sets up and plays out the script. The level of elaboration that they go to in pulling off these jobs is incredible. The set ups are detailed and thorough.

The English are very clever at telling mysteries, and this one by Bill Condon is no different. Just when you think you know you find out you don’t. You may know some, but you do not know all. The storyline builds up gradually, picking up a steady pace as the tale unfolds. Ian McLellan’s Roy is shown to think on the fly, ever calculating and Helen Mirren’s Betty glows with a warmth of a freshly lit candle and her mind is still sharp.

McKellen and Mirren are at the point in their careers where they can pick the films that they are interested in working on. This film has a little bit of a noir element in it. This is a definite watch if you are an anglophile with a penchant for suspense and mystery.

4 out of 5 stars