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Film Review

The Good Liar

Directed by Bill Condon
From: Warner Bros.
Released: 11.15.19
Review by Julian Lytle | November 14, 2019 at 5:30 PM
Actually: 8.5

Basically: A guy tries to run game on a lady but he doesn’t know she’s actually playing him. Also, they old. 

I can’t say the marketing of The Good Liar was particularly memorable. For the most part, the movie looked to be coasting on the fact that it stars Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen who have never acted against each other before. Well, The Good Liar is quite surprising and in a great way.

Photo: Warner Bros.

The film follows Roy Courtnay (McKellen), a career con-artist and thief who finds a woman named Betty McLeish (Mirren) on a dating site and schemes to swindle her out of her savings. Things do not go as planned when the tables are turned. I think most of this power switch storyline could be figured out from the trailer but, wowee, is it executed well. The movie is built on the script and how it’s performed—the actors play off and try to one-up each other in every scene. Yet none of it feels forced or too much. 

The Good Liar opens up like a rose as the chess game progresses between the two leads. Roy tries to get closer to Betty while he’s still running his other cons in London. Russell Tovey plays Betty’s grandson Steven who is—you guessed it—the skeptical family member who questions Roy’s intentions. He is a major figure in the film’s dynamic and a foil for Roy to play against. Tovey, a very good actor in his own right, holds his own with the two greats on-screen.

Photo: Warner Bros.

The direction by Bill Condon is well done. Many of the scenes could be executed in a boring way but he’s able to bring them together through his shot selection and use of color, which adds so much to the film alongside the great performances. Also, his use of violence is very smart. It’s curt, explosive, and not pretty at all which hits home with the message that violence is far from a good thing. It’s ugly and shocking and it’s shown that way. 

One thing that might bother some is you know going in that Betty is going to get the upper hand. This means the whole time you’re just waiting for Roy to get his just desserts. However, without revealing the twist, the whys of the story make the film so much more fulfilling. The Good Liar is going to be a fall gem, it’s a movie truly for adults in a growing sea of franchise tentpole releases this winter.

In the End: Check this out if you want to see a great drama in the theater before the holiday season sucks you into chaos.

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