Intrigue, deception and violence is not what you expect from an all British film starring the nation's sweethearts Helen Mirren (76) and Ian McKellen (80). Following the rhythm of the elderly Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) and Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen), the film takes its time to explore the feelings and emotions they go through in their brief (platonic) courtship. McKellen takes his viewers and poor Betty hostage while he cunningly and conningly makes his way into Betty's home, heart, and of course her wallet. A recent window, Betty's only possessions are a “smothering in beige” (Roy Courtnay) house in the suburbs of London, a devoted grandson who specializes in WWII, and a savings account of around 2.6 million pounds. With only a few months more to live due to mini strokes, she makes the perfect candidate for Roy and his partner in crime Vincent to convince her to open up a joint account to better their investments – only to clear the account as soon as she hits the transfer button. Clearly director and producer Bill Condon and writer Jeffrey Hatcher cannot think it's audience that stupid to see where this is going?
From the soft soundtrack provided by Carter Burwell to the elegance with which the stellar couple dominate their spaces and London's High Street, I can only describe this film as British chic at its finest. As Roy rightfully remarks, they are both from the same different time – and they have never lost their sense of British flair. Or did they? While flashes of violence break through the chintzy cosiness of the film, the viewers start to see the cracks in both the webs the characters have woven for themselves now and through the years. The Good Liar seemingly spoils its own plot right in the beginning, but is the plot we are made to believable the actual plot of the film? Through overarching themes and twists, more and more of the truth is revealed. And when you finally reach that much needed end to all of your questions, you see how brilliantly Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen actually played their parts all along. Just as the two-folded title, The Good Liar has many layers if you know how to look between the lies. You are definitely in for a noir-ish slow-burn thrill ride.
The Good Liar is in cinemas now.
Reviewed as Film of the Week, in partnership with Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh.