The Good Liar tries so hard to be an Alfred Hitchcock thriller to the point in which the film ultimately comes to fail on that particular level.
Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) is a con man. He meets Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) by way of an online dating website. If Roy gets his way, he’ll rob Betty of every dollar she’s worth. Betty’s grandson, Stephen (Russell Tovey), has his suspicions of Roy but Betty shrugs it off. At one point or another, Roy brings in trusted investment adviser Vincent (Jim Carter) to put the con in play.
The film takes a turn when leaving the comfort of England for Berlin. This may get into mild spoilers if you didn’t read the book but Germany is where the film gets into some of the backstory. It soon becomes a question of whether the audience will feel satisfied by the developments. The third act is certainly among the biggest disappointments of the year. There’s no other way to say it. Twists come when we least expect it. This film will likely work better for the people that read the book. The regular movie goer won’t see the twists coming a mile away. If you didn’t watch the trailer, I don’t know what to tell you. Going into the film without reading a thing may just be the best bet.
McKellen and Mirren make the best of the material that they’re given. The film does drag by a bit on the slow side but this could have also been because of the cold weather, too. The struggle to stay awake during this film is real. The issues with the film are less with the acting than the plot that starts to feel predictable before–well, you get the idea.
When it comes to The Good Liar, talking about what doesn’t work also means going into spoiler territory. By merely going into the smallest of things about the film would give it away so even that isn’t an option. What can be said is that there’s certainly a cat-and-mouse game being played. Beyond that, the things that didn’t work for the film really didn’t work. One of the things that especially didn’t work for this viewer is the Hitchcock-esque vibe. If one wants to watch a film with the thrills of a Hitchcock movie, you’re better off watching a Hitchcock film instead. Or Charade, the best Hitchcock film that Alfred Hitchcock never made.
DIRECTOR: Bill Condon
SCREENWRITER: Jeffrey Hatcher
CAST: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Russell Tovey, Jim Carter, Mark Lewis Jones