The crime mystery, The Good Liar, premieres Saturday, and if you’re into movies that drop puzzle pieces into a bigger reveal, then this is your movie. Starring Helen Mirren as a wealthy widow, Betty McLeish, and Ian McKellen as the career con-artist, Roy Courtnay, this thrilling drama will take you on a journey where everything you thought you knew, is turned upside down and leaves you wondering… how’d we get here? Let’s start at the beginning.
Betty and Roy cross paths on an online dating website. They meet and share a romantic moment at a restaurant. The scene, while a bit slow, tells us what we need to know about both of these people. Betty appears to be an open book, an easy target if you will. Roy appears to be the man of her dreams. If she likes it, he loves it. He’s obviously studied his mark because we are quickly thrown into his world of con and games.
The movie is easy to follow as long as you keep your eyes and ears open. On the surface, it feels like a love story attached to a mischievous villain. Roy hungers for validation and money, and at every corner, cons people. It’s difficult to watch sometimes because you can’t help but hope that Betty isn’t going to fall for it. And Betty does a good job skirting the lines before ever really falling into his trap. Sometimes you wonder if she knows, and other times, you think poor woman. Things really get interesting when Betty invites Roy to move into her home after barely a handful of meetings.
As Roy settles into Betty’s space, he begins to work his magic. His primary goal is to get Betty to open a joint account with him. We get to see him do the actual con, which is good foundational information for us. In his quest to con people, we learn what to expect and how he actually makes his living. Eventually, the Betty and Roy take a vacation to Germany together. Fortunate for Betty, her grandson Stephen (Russell Tovey) is by her side and onto Roy’s games. Roy feels that Stephen is onto him, but Betty does a great job at playing the woman who must make her own decisions, even if she falls for the devil himself.
The trip to Germany is an important moment and where a lot of information we’ve gathered begins to come together. Despite Roy saying he doesn’t know German, he acclimates into German society well. And as a result, Roy is forced to share that he was a former German translator and that he has a new identity. Betty accepts it, and all seems well; until it’s not. In the third act, Betty reveals that she too is lying. She reveals that she and Roy know one another. And through flashbacks, she recalls the troubling interaction they had. Warning, it does involve a sexual assault.
In the end, the con-man gets conned himself. Betty steals the money in the joint account before he can. The two do have a heated physical altercation. Betty is able to fend Roy off, only for us to learn that she’s set up Roy to come face-to-face with someone he’d conned before. The end is filled with twists that, if you watch, you can see coming. While you may not find yourself gasping for air out of shock, you should be pleasantly surprised and fulfilled. The story turns and unfolds in a way that makes sense. And hey, we all love a happy-ish ending, right? There’s no greater revelation than realizing the “good” liar, Roy, is only relatively good. Betty, herself, is the “great” liar and makes him pay! Betty, her grandson, and his partner live seemingly happily ever after and Roy winds up in the hospital, in a not so good condition. And perhaps
Check out the trailer below:
And check out The Good Liar when it debuts on HBO, HBONow/Go and HBOmax on SATURDAY, June 13 at 8:00pm.