A Delightful Mystery/Thriller
Rarely does Hollywood produce adult dramas such as director Bill Condon’s delightful mystery/thriller The Good Liar from Warner Bros./ New Line Cinema. This type of film has taken a backseat to all the comic book extravaganzas filled with explosions and mayhem. Never is a subtle written film with a thinking person’s plot and starring two of the greatest actors in show business ever made today.
Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen are two masterful actors out of the British tradition of theater and later films. Their training doesn’t show; it just is. Their acting skills ooze out of their pores like fine wine out of a cask. McKellen can do more with a smirk or a wink than can be imagined. Mirren is subtly charming, sweet, and menacing all wrapped up in her gorgeous visage. And lucky us, the audience, to be able to see them together for the first time in a film.
Mirren plays Betty, a well-heeled widow with millions stashed in her bank accounts. She’s looked after by her grandson, played by actor Russell Tovey, famed for his roles on the TV series “Quantico” and “Being Human.” With his stick-out sugar-bowl handle ears, you can’t miss him.
Needless to say, Betty gets a bit lonely after a year of widow-hood. She’s a modern gal, so she looks on the computer dating service for some companionship. Alas, so does Ian’s character Roy Courtnay. They “meet cute” in a restaurant and the adventure begins from that point.
Roy couldn’t be more charming and gentlemanly. And Betty is delicious at nearly 80 and still a knock-out, so Roy gets all lathered up over her. They become very close and almost to the point of being intimate.
What we find out is that Roy is a con man of the first degree. He runs an organization with several other thugs to remove people’s cash through a nefarious real-estate schemes. Betty doesn’t know all of this about Roy. She trusts him implicitly.
When Roy suggest they combine their money into one large account, Betty falls for it. Her grandson Steven is a little more skeptical about Roy and reminds Betty that she doesn’t know him all that well.
This is the point when the movie goes into second gear and the twists and plot revelations astound the audience. Director Condon makes things happen that the audience least expects. Condon has characters reveal intriguing stories about their past that we least expect. It’s done subtlety with humor, cleverness and shock. It’s one of those films where you say “Wow! I didn’t see that coming!”
Mirren and McKellen are both delightful, charming, humorous and evil at times. When? You never know which one is evil, and which one is as charming as can be. Is it both of them? Is it just one of them? Is it somebody else? Could it be the beautifully voiced Jim Carter (TV’s “Downton Abbey”) who plays Vincent, an investment broker?
You’re in for a whirlwind ride of plot reverses and unexpected events. It’s a fun journey to go along with these two fabulous stars. It’s a picture adults have been waiting for---but youngsters can enjoy the intrigue as well.
(Released by Warner Bros/ New Line Cinema and rated “R” for some strong violence, and for language and brief nudity.)