THE GOOD LIAR – Review by Susan Granger

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In their first film together, Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen match wits in a clever crime caper, set in London.

Widowed Betty McLeish (Mirren) is a retired Oxford professor with $3.6 million in assets and no idea how to invest her money. Tweedy, chivalrous Roy (McKellen) Courtnay is the professional con man she meets via an on-line service called Distinctive Dating.

Initially suspicious of one another, both use pseudonyms which are soon discarded as they realize they’re both looking for companionship and begin meeting regularly.

But when he’s not with Betty, scheming Roy and his partner-in-crime Vincent (Jim Carter) are planning to swindle a pair of businessmen (Mark Lewis, Stefan Kalipha) in a bogus offshore investment scheme.

One evening, when the restaurant at which they planned to meet is closed, genial Betty graciously invites Roy to her small suburban home where he meets Betty’s grown grandson Steven (Russell Tovey), who is writing a dissertation on Nazi architect Albert Speer.

As time passes, Roy introduces gullible Betty to Vincent, posing as his ‘accountant and financial planner,’ who suggests that she and Roy combine their assets. They’re both delighted at what an easy ‘mark’ Betty seems to be.

But then Betty insists that she and Roy go on a European vacation, stopping in Berlin, where Steven has been studying ‘40s Germany. That’s where unexpected revelations and unpredictable complications arise.

Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher (“Mr. Holmes”) from Nicholas Searle’s 2016 novel and directed by Bill Condon (“Gods and Monsters,” “Kinsey”), punctuated by Carter Burwell’s menacing score, it’s deceptively diabolical, leaving the audience to wonder who can be trusted and who can’t.

What makes this subtle cat-and-mouse game work are the combined talents of Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen, who play off each other with staggering finesse despite the film’s shaky credibility.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Good Liar” is a slyly sophisticated 6 – revolving around sociopathic vengeance. in assets and no idea how to invest her money. Tweedy, chivalrous Roy (McKellen) Courtnay is the professional con man she meets via an on-line service called Distinctive Dating.

Initially suspicious of one another, both use pseudonyms which are soon discarded as they realize they’re both looking for companionship and begin meeting regularly.

But when he’s not with Betty, scheming Roy and his partner-in-crime Vincent (Jim Carter) are planning to swindle a pair of businessmen (Mark Lewis, Stefan Kalipha) in a bogus offshore investment scheme.

One evening, when the restaurant at which they planned to meet is closed, genial Betty graciously invites Roy to her small suburban home where he meets Betty’s grown grandson Steven (Russell Tovey), who is writing a dissertation on Nazi architect Albert Speer.

As time passes, Roy introduces gullible Betty to Vincent, posing as his ‘accountant and financial planner,’ who suggests that she and Roy combine their assets. They’re both delighted at what an easy ‘mark’ Betty seems to be.

But then Betty insists that she and Roy go on a European vacation, stopping in Berlin, where Steven has been studying ‘40s Germany. That’s where unexpected revelations and unpredictable complications arise.

Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher (“Mr. Holmes”) from Nicholas Searle’s 2016 novel and directed by Bill Condon (“Gods and Monsters,” “Kinsey”), punctuated by Carter Burwell’s menacing score, it’s deceptively diabolical, leaving the audience to wonder who can be trusted and who can’t.

What makes this subtle cat-and-mouse game work are the combined talents of Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen, who play off each other with staggering finesse despite the film’s shaky credibility.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Good Liar” is a slyly sophisticated 6 – revolving around sociopathic vengeance.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.