FlixChatter Review: THE GOOD LIAR (2019)

Directed by: Bill Condon
Written by: Jeffrey Hatcher
Starring: Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, Russell Tovey

Advertised as the first ever pairing of Dame Helen Mirren and Sir Ian McKellen, The Good Liar boasts perhaps two of film’s all-time greatest. Based on the best-selling book by Nicholas Searle (a former British Intelligence officer) and adapted to screen by (MN native) Jeffrey Hatcher, McKellen plays Roy Courtnay, an octogenarian career swindler who preys on greedy businessmen by day and conning rich, lonely widows of their retirement by night. Via online dating, he meets Betty McLeish (Mirren), a former Oxford professor and widower. She is immediately swept off her feet by Roy’s charming ways, to the chagrin of her grandson Steven (Russell Tovey) who grows suspicious of his nebulous history and character. Is he there to steal her money? Of course. But will this be an easy con, or are there twists and turns up ahead?

As expected, the two leads give a solid performance. McKellen is smooth, easy to watch and almost fun. The same can be said of Mirren, who exudes an airy, determined cool that seems so effortless. The first two thirds of the film is a slow burn of calculated intensity. The thriller unfolds with the taut directness of a Graham Greene novel. Propelled by the actors fine execution, The Good Liar engaged me throughout the first and second act.

Craftily directed by Condon (Gods and Monsters), the film, while predictable, stays focused and lets the two leads carry the weight for the most part. But it all falls apart in the third and final act. While we anticipated the oncoming twists just around the bend, some aspects of the story bordered on the preposterous and came dangerously close to being camp. The final third of the film unintentionally gave off the scent of being an exploitation film. Revenge movies of the late 60s and early seventies come to mind as well as pulp novels they were based on.

Because of Mirren and McKellen, we can forgive the unconvincing story in exchange for their screen presence. And they do give off an entertaining and unique chemistry. But I left the theatre feeling a bit swindled myself. Conned out of an ending that wouldn’t leave me feeling hollow and ambivalent. As good as they were in the film, it seems an opportunity was lost here for something that could have been really special.

The Good Liar is a slick, almost elegant (thanks to Carter Burwell’s score) but uneven film. The genius of the two lead actors mask the inadequacies of the story and screenplay, but not enough to save it from its own predictability and obviousness. It should be said that it was well-intentioned – addressing important issues regarding gender and portraying the redemption of one of its characters. But in truth, The Good Liar is so-so and just missed being great.

Vince_review


So did you get to see THE GOOD LIAR? Let us know what you think!

2019 TWIN CITIES FILM FEST arrives this week! What to see Wednesday-Sunday

Hello FC readers, it’s Ruth here!

TWO MORE DAYS until TCFF arrives on Wednesday, and I’m so excited for this 11-day of great films, insightful educational events and awesome after-parties! Not only can film fans watch a variety of films, both studio fares and indies, we also get to learn from filmmakers and network with actors, directors, producers, etc.

CHECK OUT THE DAILY SCHEDULE!

So. Many. Great Films! These are what TCFF has in store this week from Wednesday, Oct. 16 – Sunday, Oct 20. I’ll post the daily schedule for next week sometime this weekend.

If you missed my last post on TCFF,  I talked about that there are more than 60 percent of 2019 program are driven by female filmmakers and a bunch of films about environmental responsibility, the fest’s social justice cause this year.

Now behold the DAILY SCHEDULE. If you still haven’t got your tickets yet, well, what are you waiting for??

Wednesday, October 16

It’s tradition that TCFF opens with a bang… and for its 10th anniversary, it does not disappoint!! Two very strong films opens the film fest, plus special guests coming to the WORKING MAN screening!

6:00p.m.:  JoJo Rabbit, Taika Waititi

 

8:30p.m.: Working Man, Robert Jury
Special guests: Talia Shire – Actor, Peter Gerety – Actor, Robert Jury – Director


Thursday, October 17       

12:45p.m.: When We Were Apollo, Zachary Weil

1:00p.m.: Chameleon, Marcus Mizelle

2:45p.m.: Well Groomed, Rebecca Stern

3:10p.m.: CRSHD, Emily Cohn

5:00p.m.: Shorts – In All The Wrong Places, Various Directors

One of the films is Master Servant, which I helped produced. Check out a clip from the film here.

5:15p.m.: Current Revolution, Roger Sorkin

7:00p.m.: The Aeronauts, Tom Harper

7:15p.m.: Max Bishop, Jack Beranek

9:25p.m.: Last Call, Gavin Michael Booth

9:35p.m.: Greener Grass,  Jocelyn DeBoer & Dawn Luebbe 


Friday, October 18

12:30p.m.: Juice: How Electricity Explains the World, Tyson Culver

12:45p.m.: Salvage, Amy C. Elliott

2:30p.m.: Raising Buchanan, Bruce Dellis

2:45p.m.: Killbird, Joe Zanetti

5:10p.m.: The Soviet Sleep Experiment, Barry Andersson

7:10p.m.: The Truth About Marriage, Roger Nygard

Special Guests: Roger Nygard – Director, Billy Sullivan – Producer, Composer

7:20p.m.: Inside the Rain, Aaron Fisher

9:30p.m.: Greywoods Plot, Josh Stifter

I featured Josh on the blog in January when he talked about The Good Exorcist, that he shot as part of the reality show for El Rey Network. Check out the trailer for his new movie:

9:40p.m.: Wade in the Water, Mark Wilson


Saturday, October 19

9:30a.m.: Youth Unstoppable, Slater Jewell-Kemker

9:45a.m.: Screenagers, Dr. Delaney Ruston

11:30a.m.: Like Harvey Like Son, Rudy Harris

11:45a.m.: Food Coop, Tom Boothe

2:00p.m.: Chameleon, Marcus Mizelle

2:15p.m.: What Lies West, Jessica Ellis

Special Guests: Jessica Ellis – Writer/Director, Sean Carroll – DP/Producer, Jennifer Milliman – Producer, Actors – Nicolette Ellis, Anna K. Peterson

4:15p.m.: Shorts – Age of Innocence, Various Directors

4:25p.m.: Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach

6:30p.m.: A Perfect 14, Giovanna Morales Vargas

7:25p.m.: International Falls, Amber McGinnis

Stay tuned for my interview with Amber!

9:10p.m.: The Field, Tate Bunker

9:45p.m.: Puppet Killer, Lisa Ovies


Sunday, October 20

10:00a.m.: Science Fair, Cristina Costantini & Darren Foster

10:10a.m.: Warrior Women, Elizabeth A. Castle & Christina D. King

12:00p.m.: The Wall of Mexico, Zachary Cotler & Magdalena Zyzak

12:20p.m.: 8 Seasons of Art, Phil McGraw

 

2:30p.m.: Go Back To China, Emily Ting

Stay tuned for my interview post with Emily. Her first film Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong is available on streaming, including Amazon Prime.

3:15p.m.: Oildale, David Mueller

5:00p.m.: Shorts – Documentaries, Various Directors

5:40p.m.: The Protectors, Ben Hughes

7:10p.m.: A Hidden Life, Terrence Malick

8:00p.m.: Into the Void, Wayne H. Johnson, Jr.


Stay tuned for the Daily Schedule for the rest of the film fest!

Download 2019 TCFF Schedule Grid


FREE EDUCATIONAL EVENTS!!

How many film festival offers FREE educational events!! Well TCFF does, and there are also a variety of fantastic panels featuring acclaimed filmmakers! Click on the image below to learn more about our educational offerings.

Here is one I’m looking forward to this week:

Sunday, October 20th 3-4pm:
SCRIPTWRITING MASTER CLASS Jeffrey Hatcher (Scriptwriter) The Good Liar, Casanova, The Duchess.


GET YOUR TICKETS!

To buy tickets, learn more about TCFF, events, or to donate, visit twincitiesfilmfest.org

Ticket prices are $13 for General Admission & $20 for Spotlight Films. Festival Passes can also be purchased as follows: Silver Pass – $55 (5 pack of non-Gala tickets); Gold Pass – $90 (10 pack of non-Gala tickets); Platinum Pass – $130 (12 pack of non-Gala tickets + 2 Gala tickets); Spotlight Pass – $100 (6 tickets to any Spotlight Film).

The passes are such an incredible deal!! Get it soon so you can order your tickets right away. Trust me, it’s SO worth it!!

PLUS… All tickets guarantee admission to that evening’s afterparty in the TCFF Lounge located onsite at The Shops at West End.

THANKS to Can Can Wonderland, our lounge is now TCFF Can Can WonderPark!! It’s designed to give festival goers a space to network, relax and discuss film, so come on down and join us during the fest!


Stay tuned for reviews/interviews with various filmmakers!