Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen are two incredible artists, they’re basically vintage Hollywood royalty. Actors like these two take their craft very seriously and thank god for it. Watching these two in a film like this is like watching a lovely dance. It’s just an absolute pleasure to see professionals who really care. Mirren and McKellen do a lot for this film, both of them completely absorb their characters and the script, for the most part, supports them in their efforts. I do hope The Good Liar does well at the box office because I want more like this!
Oh how I love mystery thrillers. This genre of film is so exciting because of the inability to know the full story as things are moving along. Trying to evaluate different character and guess which way the story might go is all part of the fun, and while some of this film is guessable, other aspects are not. I like how the film takes its time developing these main characters and gives us time to get to know them. Seeing them interact and grow closer as companions is important to the plot and I was always interested. There was a part of me that thought one thing might be happening under the surface and it turned out I was right but I couldn’t have guessed how deep the twist goes. I really liked the twist because it gave the story a much deeper meaning. The way it’s all revealed and played out in the final act is clever and features a very powerful showdown that’s memorable.
As I mentioned, Mirren and McKellen are two incredibly gifted performers and they are given wonderful opportunities to flex their acting muscles here, which they take full advantage of. I love the way McKellen is able to handle different scenes with such ease, it seems effortless for him to take on different personas, which is of course his professionalism at work. Mirren, who I’ve long adored, is able to do here what she’s best at, which is to be completely lovely and charming with a hint of something deeper lurking under the surface. She is so great at that and I’ve seen her do it in other films, her charm is so disarming and captivating and it’s like lulling someone into a trance. The true greatness comes out when she turns on a dime and reveals a slick toughness, that just like McKellen, seems to come with ease. These actors are fantastic on their own so when you put them together, a sort of magic is created. They have electric onscreen chemistry which makes the dramatic scenes between them so effective.
I like how the writers opened up the scope of the film’s plot and made it about much more than one would think. Justice, revenge, and morality are all themes that come up in this film and I like how they were all handled. Now yes it’s true that this isn’t among the strongest mystery thrillers you’ll ever see, but it’s very well made and attention to detail is important here. I think it’s quite easy to tell when the writers of a project truly care about what’s being put on the page and when it’s just a lazy studio cash grab, and rest assure there’s obvious care and effort invested here.
Without giving away any spoilers I do want to warn of one thing some people may be sensitive to or possibly triggered by. There’s a somewhat offscreen sexual assault, it’s very clear what’s happening and while it’s crucial to the plot, it is unsettling and I just want to caution in case any survivors wish to see this.
The Good Liar is a well made mystery thriller with an excellent cast to carry things out. It’s definitely worth the price of admission and I hope you go because these types of films need to be supported at the box office, not just huge blockbusters.