The Good Liar is Honestly Not So Good.
The Good Liar is a crime thriller directed and produced by Bill Condon, that relies on the talent of its two exceptional lead actors: Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen. The film tries to delve into the dark side of human nature, utilizing some Hitchcockian twists but fails to allow audiences to puzzle out the motivations of the characters.
We initially follow the deceptive strategy of career con artist Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) who meets well-off widow Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren). As she starts to open her life and home to him, Roy is surprised to find himself caring about her, turning what should be a cut-and-dry swindle into the most treacherous tightrope walk of his life. The motion picture — based on the novel The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle — not only builds up the mystery on whether Roy or Betty will gain the upper hand, but it portrays how our past shapes the perception of the present and determines our adulthood. As director Bill Condon explained: “It’s not just the same twists that might surprise you, but the reasons that generate them and the consequences they cause.”
The Good Liar explores the art of deception within relationships, as if it were a third age version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, with a more calamitous and exceedingly dramatic backstory. The perfect treachery offers the tacit, and somewhat cynical, recognition that success is held by the party who sticks to a shameless scheme with the aim of exploiting the other person’s vulnerability. From the beginning it is clear that we will witness an actual duel, between a couple. But the real charm of the movie is to watch two titans work together, bringing many nuances and style to their roles.
The movie, unlike good thrillers does not provide the audience with the clues to draw the necessary conclusions to solve the enigma. The answers arrive through a series of flashbacks that pop out of the blue and reconstruct the protagonists’ past towards the very end. The suspense folds up because the public has no idea of what will happen next and is not provided with the motivations to guess the intentions of the characters’ actions. Anything can happen outside the expected, making the audience feel detached from the cinematic experience.
However, the film offers a stirring look at the origin of evil, through two strikingly complex characters, interpreted by two of the greatest actors of all time, at the height of their form, who manage to keep us on their toes all the time, like a classic detective story.