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The Good Liar

Ian McKellen plays con man Roy, who meets recently widowed Betty, played by Helen Mirren.

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There used to be a time when the word “Hitchcockian” was regularly used to describe new movies. But these days? Not so much. The reason may be that such movies simply aren’t in vogue at the moment (see the muted response to Robert Zemeckis’s ALLIED), or that it takes a tremendous amount of cinematic skill to play with the audience and pull off the suspenseful twists and turns that define such a movie.

In THE GOOD LIAR, director Bill Condon (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, MR. HOLMES) strives for Hitchcock in his adaptation of a sufficiently twisty Nicholas Searle novel. And while he may not have the idiosyncrasies or visual flare of an auteur like Hitch, he does manage to craft a slyly engaging neo-noir tale with fine performances all around.

In fact, THE GOOD LIAR has enough surprises up its sleeve that it practically defies any attempts at an easy summary, lest this review be accused of containing spoilers. So let’s just say that the film involves two mysterious characters, played by frequent Condon collaborators Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren, who seemingly hit it off after meeting via an internet dating service. We soon come to understand that McKellen’s Roy is a con artist ready to scam Mirren’s Betty out of her life’s savings, but anyone who’s seen a few thrillers knows that a second shoe will drop before that happens.

To the movie’s credit, while many viewers will suspect that a big reveal is on the way, few if any will be able to predict the motivations behind the twist. This is the real mystery at the core of this movie: we know people are lying -- the real surprise is in finding out the reasons for all those lies.

By the end, we’re left to run the movie over again in our heads to see if all the pieces really do fall in place. In this case, it’s safe to say that everyone involved is smart enough to craft an airtight story that is not only satisfying, but perhaps even worthy of ol’ Hitch.

Sean Erickson

Credits

Original title: The Good Liar
USA 2019, 109 min
Language: English, German
Genre: Drama
Director: Bill Condon
Author: Jeffrey Hatcher
DOP: Tobias A. Schliessler
Montage: Virginia Katz
Music: Carter Burwell
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Cast: Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, Russell Tovey, Mark Lewis Jones
FSK: 12
Release: 28.11.2019

Website

Screenings

Screenings

  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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