Movie Review: The Good Liar (2019)

Posted: June 13, 2020 in Drama, Romance
Tags: ,


An elderly widow named Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) is looking for companionship and uses video dating to find Roy Courtney (Ian McKellan)  The two start dating, and they hit it off.  Roy has a side business in London, but is very attentive to Betty throughout their time together.  Betty’s grandson Stephen (Russell Tovey) becomes concerned when Roy moves on with Betty.  Betty just seems happy to find a man to spend her golden years with.  They plan a trip to Germany, Spain, and France, all the while Roy is pushing  for the relationship to become more serious, and for Betty to join Roy in his financial investments.  Is Roy an innocent old man looking for company, or is he a grifter?

The problem with A Good Liar is the story is far too predictable, and the story is told in too conventional a manner.  The writers telegraph their punches in such a way that a plot twist is not only necessary, it’s inevitable.  There is not only one plot twist but several, and it seems to take an interminably long time to get to the inevitable twist, and that is also part of the problem.  When the major twist is revealed, it’s underwhelming, and not worth waiting for.  The ending is silly, as two of the best actors of our time stage a physical altercation to conclude the proceedings.  Both actors deserved better than this juvenile script.

The acting is good, it is the only thing that holds the movie together.  Ian McKellan does a  good job as Roy, but he’s so limited by the one-dimensional character that he can’t make Roy the complex person that he deserves to be.  Similarly, Helen Mirren plays a one-dimensional character and by the time the reveal comes , it’s too late to care about her character.

The direction by Bill Condon is lackluster.  He tries to inject some visual stimulus into the film by shooting from different angles, but that doesn’t really add or take away anything from the film itself.  The pacing is really slow, and that hurts the film, it takes forever to reach the climax of the film, and the viewer already knows where the story is leading so there is no real surprise element.   Condon does not get credit for Mirren and McKellan’s performances either, these are two veteran actors, masters of their craft, who need no cues from the director.

The Good Liar:  The grift that needs to be returned.


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