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The Good Liar

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The Times Of India
29th November, 2019 12:00 IST
Critics Rating:
CastHelen Mirren,Ian McKellen,Russell Tovey,Mark Lewis Jones
DirectorBill Condon
GenreDrama,Thriller
Duration1h 49m

The Good Liar Story: Con man Roy Courtnay ( Ian McKellen ) has identified his next mark – the wealthy Betty McLeish ( Helen Mirren ). But Betty’s grandson Steven (Russel Tovey) is suspicious of Roy and discourages her from falling head over heels for him. Will Roy be able to pull off yet another conquest, or will Betty pay heed to Steven’s warnings?

The Good Liar Review: Roy Courtnay’s (Ian McKellen) entire career is based on deception. Using false identities and elaborate manipulations, Roy and his partner-in-crime Vincent (Jim Carter) have made a handsome living by tricking gullible rich people. Roy’s specialises in vulnerable and lonely women, so the widowed Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) seems like a straightforward con for him.

As the story unfolds mainly from Roy’s perspective, it’s impossible not to be charmed by his charismatic demeanour, thanks to Ian McKellen’s fascinating transitions from one ruse to the next. Helen Mirren makes an extensive case for the otherwise pragmatic Betty to give in to Roy. Betty is no pushover, but Mirren makes you feel for the character who begins to let her guard down. Going by their long and highly decorated careers, including their masterful performances in this film, it’s easy to take Dame Mirren and Sir McKellen for granted as actors. While that’s acceptable for the audience, The Good Lair’s screenplay also does the same, and demands us to receive all the twists and turns it throws along the way with open arms, merely because we get to watch two stalwarts at the top of their game.

Yes – the joy of seeing these two accomplished actors hold their own ground as they simultaneously build on each other’s talents, is undeniable. But even though the plot tries very hard to lead you down a certain narrative, the machinations of the inevitable twist are equally impossible to miss. Perhaps the reveal may be shocking to some; for most, it will be too much to digest. Director Bill Condon’s best efforts come apart at the seams in the film’s third act, and the farfetched climax effectively sullies what could have been an engaging watch. It also leaves the entire film riddled with plot holes, which will become evident on second viewing. Since its execution doesn’t quite meet expectations, ‘The Good Liar’ works better as an acting masterclass by its brilliant lead performers, rather than a taut and rewarding storytelling experience.

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