Anything But The Truth

The Good Liar  
Stars: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Russell Tovey, Jim Carter, Mark Lewis and Celine Bueken
Director: Bill Condon
Scriptwriter: Jeffrey Hatcher from the novel “The Good Liar” by Nicholas Searle
Composer: Carter Burwell
Cinematography: Tobias A. Schliessler
New Line Cinema/Warner Brothers
Rating: R for profanity and themed material
Running Length: 110 Minutes 

Watching Helen Mirren (“Catherine The Great”) and Ian McKellen (“All Is True”) on the screen together is a lesson in acting. The two pros play off each other well in this film about secrets, betrayal, patience and war. Director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”) guides the actors through their roles including the age differences from younger versions of the characters to present time.   

There are really two stories being told here.  One is from the time of WWII and the other is 2009.  The past unfolds and lets the audience know what happened then, and this is done bit by bit. Present time has the characters in different lives and how they exist now, in spite of the past. Betty (Helen Mirren) meets Roy (Ian McKellen) through a dating service.  They are senior citizens, and Betty is a widow, while Roy is in the investment business. This type of investment business has a double meaning. Roy’s associate, Vincent (Jim Carter from “Downton Abbey”) is his right-hand man, while Betty has Steven (Russell Tovey from “Years and Years”), her grandson, for advice. The plot begins to thicken when Roy fakes a limp and moves into Betty’s house and finds she is ill. There is a trip to Berlin, though, and it begins to look like “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” with the scent of money everywhere. However... 

Helen Mirren does Betty as demure and like a sheep in a meadow.  While Ian McKellen’s Roy, is the man looking over the fence and devising a way in. While Roy prowls, Betty seems weak, but her body language speaks volumes. The characters must be careful, as each gesture or comment has meaning. Jim Carter, with distinctive voice, steals his scenes, and Russell Tovey is precise in his moves. 

The plot keeps you guessing and though you may think you know what is going on, sit back and relax and let the story take you along. The movie was filmed in London and Berlin and Carter Burwell’s soundtrack is right for the story. Just like that twist of lemon in a drink, there is a twist here, too. 


Copyright 2019 Marie Asner