Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren team up for the entertainingly twisty film The Good Liar
“It seems like you’ve had quite a past”
Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the novel of the same name by Nicholas Searle, The Good Liar marks the first time that British institutions Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren have worked together on screen. And when these two are onscreen together, this is a corking film.
With a twinkle in his eye, McKellen’s Roy is trawling the dating apps and lights upon the widowed Betty (Mirren). soon setting a date. They connect over martinis and bond over not necessarily being who they said they were online but as we discover Roy is a lifelong conman, it’s clear his eyes are set on her not inconsiderable means.
Roy soon inveigles his way into Betty’s spare room, much to the dismay of her grandson Steven (Russell Tovey). But this proves to be no ordinary con as Roy’s scheming with his pal Vincent (a very good Jim Carter) is set against Steven researching Roy’s past and layer upon layer of deception is exposed.
Bill Condon’s direction is unfussily strong, unafraid to add stabs of violence to crack the veneer of respectability, and his use of extended flashbacks adds an interesting touch, although these scenes lack some of the star quality that the two leads are able to imbue every interaction. The twistiness is good without being too predictable, there’s a nice cameo from Lucian Msamati and Tovey plays gay – what more do you want?!