If you’re a fan of either Helen Mirren (age 74) or Ian McKellen (age 80), you’ll enjoy this showcase of their respective talents. I mention their ages since they factor heavily in the plot and inter-character dynamics.
The lies in The Good Liar begin while the opening credits are still rolling. Mirren, who plays Estelle, is in the comfort of her home entering profile information into a (we assume) seniors dating website. McKellen, as Brian, is also typing feverishly, entering all kinds of false information, sipping whiskey and dragging heavily on a cigarette in what appears to be his office or library. Of course his dating persona neither smokes nor drinks. She is looking for companionship and he is interested in romance.
I’ll depart from the rest of the story after their first meeting, where Brian admits that his name is actually Roy, and Estelle similarly confesses to really being Betty. As they drop their guards they quickly form a deep connection and we realize that only now can the really good lying begin. We go along for the ride, wondering about each, trusting neither. And as the film’s end approaches, wipe the slate clean for the big reveal and start all over again. Who ARE these people?
Well, in real life, Mirren is an Oscar winner with a career spanning over fifty years. And McKellen of course, is Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, but much, much more. His career is approaching sixty years, with two Oscar nominations and a reputation as one of the greatest stage and screen actors. Together they are at once adorable and devious, and oh so British.
Bill Condon, who directed Dreamgirls and Chicago is at the helm here. His experience with the difficulty of transitioning in and out of musical numbers may have benefited him as he flipped the script in The Good Liar from one character to the other, and within Roy Courtnay’s dual identity.
I think you’ll be fond of The Good Liar. And you’ll understand that statement when you see the film.
The Good Liar runs 1 hour 49 minutes and is rated R.
Should I see this movie?