The Good Liar movie cast: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Jim Carter, Russell Tovey
The Good Liar movie director: Bill Condon
The Good Liar movie rating: 2.5 stars
The Good Liar gets almost everything right. Two old people seeking companionship, meeting up on a dating website, showing themselves amenable to small lies, and then one of them going on to bigger lies and more, while the other one gives a distinct hint that it could all be a front. With Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen playing the parts, could the plot of this film based on a novel by the same name get more delicious?
However, author Nicholas Searley also happens to have been a former intelligence official. This perhaps explains why he feels compelled to drag this story of a conman-and-a-victim into weightier narratives. There are several unnecessary diversions into Hitler and Nazi Germany to give you some idea where it is going, and then, when the story heads there, it is completely unconvincing.
Still, these are two fabulous actors in the main role, plus Carter, being directed by Oscar-winning director Condon. And the pas de deux between Mirren’s Betty and McKellen’s Roy as they figure each other out, one step forward, one step back, is a lesson in intrigue. You dare not even think you have the whole picture, with each hinting at secrets in every gesture, word, glance, even as seeming to be old, harmless, genial, wry Britons, who are as old, harmless, genial and wry as they come.
At one point, Roy says the country life with Betty, which he is living as part of his elaborate farce, is making him feel suffocated, “submerged in beige”. Not grey. Beige. You might find yourself using that expression often.