FILM REVIEW | The Good Liar

Sir Ian McKellen. Dame Helen Mirren.

There are few actors as well respected as these two icons of cinema.

Cat-and-mouse con thriller The Good Liar sees them collaborate for the first time onscreen, under the direction of Beauty and the Beast helmer Bill Condon.

While their names should be enough to get you through the door, unfortunately the film does little to keep you in your seat.

It follows McKellen's confident con artist Roy Courtnay as he begins to swindle the recently-widowed Betty McLeish (Mirren).

Full of easy charm and good humour, it doesn't take long for Roy to ingratiate himself in a very willing Betty's life.

But her grandson Stephen is not so keen on the whole situation and is suss on Roy from the start.

Meanwhile, the con artist is running another scheme with his buddy Vincent (Downton Abbey's Jim Carter) to line their pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Good Liar moves slowly, drawing out the con and teasing the audience with moments where Roy must think on his feet to avoid being caught out.

Iconic: Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Helen Mirren appear in their first onscreen collaboration in Bill Condon's The Good Liar, rated MA15+, in cinemas now.

Iconic: Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Helen Mirren appear in their first onscreen collaboration in Bill Condon's The Good Liar, rated MA15+, in cinemas now.

What cannot be denied is this film is a good step in the right direction for older actors.

There are few films headlined by senior actors which are not just about ageing or light comedies, or romantically pairing 60-year-old men with 25-year-old women.

This is a story gives older actors some genuine character work, an actual story and motivations and a life.

That being said, the way The Good Liar plays out in its final act feels like a bit of a hoodwink in itself.

Audiences have been following these characters for a good chunk of film, only to have odd backstories suddenly revealed for which there is no apparent foreshadowing.

There are also moments of intense violence - gore even - that are completely at odds with the rest of the film's smooth, cautious hand.

The Good Liar, much like its protagonist, talks big game but is really just confused about its identity and place in the world.

That all being said, Carter Burwell's score is absolutely beautiful, if you're into that sort of thing.

Rating: 5.5/10