The Good Liar Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Pros: Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen in one film; the plot twists are really unexpected Cons: overkill and twisting in the script “The Perfect Liar” / The Good Liar

Genre Drama, Thriller
Directed by Bill Condon
Starring: Helen Mirren (Betty MacLeish), Ian McKellen (Roy Courtenay), Johannes Heikur (Johannesson Vlad), Russell Tovey (Steven), Jim Carter (Vincent), Mark Lewis Jones (Bryn), Phil Dunster (Roy), Michael Culkin (Dr. Livesey), Laurie Davidson (Hans Tob), etc.
New Line Cinema Companies, Bron, 1000 Eyes
Year of release 2019
IMDb website

A Perfect Lie is a feature-length adaptation of the novel of the same name by Nicholas Searle. The film was directed by Bill Condon. He had previously worked with Ian McKellen three times, directing the actor in the films Gods and Monsters, Mr. Holmes, and Beauty and the Beast.

By the way, for his role in the drama “Gods and Monsters,” McKellen was nominated for several awards, and Bill Condon was awarded an Oscar statuette for best screenplay adaptation. “A Perfect Lie,” which was released twenty years after the premiere of the triumphant film, will not be able to win the same recognition from film academics. There is nothing outstanding in the film, except, of course, for the presence of two talented actors.

The plot of the new film shows a lonely woman, Betty (Helen Mirren). On an online dating site, she finds a pleasant companion in Roy (Ian McKellen). Both participants in the correspondence lie about the absence of bad habits and introduce themselves with other people’s names. Having revealed the first lie in person, they turn everything into a joke and begin communication. When Betty invites Roy to her home, her adult grandson openly expresses his hostility towards the stranger, believing that he may be a fraudster who cynically takes advantage of the trust of a rich woman.


“A Perfect Lie” is a dramatic thriller that gradually reveals clues that what is happening is not as obvious as it seems at first glance. The filmmakers make a big point of this, trying to entice viewers with the hint of a double play (revealing this even in the trailer).

The script of the film is structured in such a way as to give the main characters a certain characterization, and then show several shocking plot twists. Unfortunately, they don’t always work as expected. Despite a few clues left by the writers in the middle of the story, the ending is more disappointing than shocking.


In truth, the film surprises with its blatant overkill in the denouement. The story is so twisted and devoid of believability that it goes beyond the boundaries of serious dramatic cinema. In some places, what is happening loses common sense to such an extent that the dashing turns, no matter how hard you try, can no longer be justified by the intention to impress the viewer.

It’s a shame, because Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren deserve better, especially for their first feature film together. Surprisingly, they had only played together once before: in the early 2000s, the artists took part in the production of the play The Dance of Death.


No matter what the script of the film “A Perfect Lie” is, it still cannot spoil the talent of the actors. McKellen and Mirren are so graceful in their craft that you first watch them, elegantly moving through the streets of London, and only then pay attention to the shortcomings of the plot. The actors exchange glances, change emotions in a second and play up their age with dignity. They make a great duet that I would like to see again. True, in a more serious film.


“The Perfect Lie” is far from the only project of 2019 in which the actors took part. In October, the historical mini-series “Catherine the Great” was released, starring Helen Mirren. In December, the world premiere of the controversial musical “Cats” will take place, where you can expect a performance by Ian McKellen.

In between these works, the thriller “The Perfect Lie” appears. In the absence of other options, you can go to the cinema to see it, turning a blind eye to the absurdity of some moments and enjoying the acting.


The film is worth paying attention to because of the acting duo McKellen and Mirren, who starred in a movie together for the first time.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top