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Review: McKellen and Mirren Make for a Dynamic Duo in ‘The Good Liar’

November 15, 2019Britany Murphy

Lies are something that seem to be prevalent in the day-to-day lives of many, and really a little white lie here and there in the world of online dating has never hurt anyone, right? In The Good Liar, however, something that begins as a small mistruth spirals into something much more dangerous — and the consequences that come along with such deception will leave audiences reeling.

The film begins with two widowed Londoners, both seeking companionship via the world of online dating. Unsure of what to make of one another at the outset and even using fake names when they meet for their first date, the pair eventually grow quite fond of one another. However, we soon learn that the motives behind Roy's (Ian McKellen) interest in Betty (Helen Mirren) are more nefarious in nature, and this seemingly sweet and charming gentleman is anything but. Not only does Roy have a scam going with Betty, but he had his hands in the proverbial cookie jar of many backdoor-type dealings, all unbeknownst to Betty.

Despite a seedy job and an even seedier past, Roy wins Betty's friendship with ease and believes the game he's set in motion is the perfect plan to upend the unwitting Betty's life and reap the benefits. However, he doesn't anticipate the wedge that will come between them, in the form of Betty's grandson, Stephen (Russell Tovey). A tough nut to crack, Stephen is instantly distrustful of Roy and believes that his grandmother is letting things happen too quickly. Furthermore, Roy isn't the only one with secrets; but in order to find out just what exactly Betty knows and the lengths she will go to protect her own secrets, you will have to watch the movie to find out.

McKellen and Mirren are pitch-perfect as the enigmatic Roy and the forthright Betty. In roles that are very different from what we've seen from both in the past, it is a treat getting to know the duo as the budding couple. The chemistry between the pair is palpable and they both play off one another perfectly. And while we often get to see each character in their own space, it is something special when the two actors share the screen together. Whether in scenes of joy, sadness, confusion, or simply solitude, McKellen and Mirren are captivating. Despite some far-fetched moments, the duo make all of these elements believable, ultimately making the film that much better.

Directed by Bill Condon, the result is a slow burn for its majority, but the payoff at the end is well worth it; and it will keep you guessing until the very end. With many ups and downs throughout, patience is the key word. But when the movie peaks, it truly peaks. Although some moments aren't for the faint of heart, The Good Liar is certainly worthy of a watch.

The Good Liar releases November 15th, 2019 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for some strong violence, and for language and brief nudity. Its runtime is 1 hr. 49 min.

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