Without question, Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren are superb actors and its nice to see them together for the first time in this film. If you want to see what good acting looks like— here’s an example. But the odd thing about this film is that it is good actors who are pretending to be good pretenders— whereas, nothing is as it seems, and the film proves to be a tissue of lies and deceptions…. and revenge in the bargain. To this I would add that some of the twists in the tale are frankly, not really believable— for example the conceit that both of the main actors are secretly Germans pretending to be British. Gandalf and the Queen could never be Germans…. sorry. The problem is not bad acting— far from it. The problem is a dodgy script and plot line, and it’s really too bad. When you come away from a film not liking any of the main characters, and finding no redeeming merit in the story line— well, there were better ways to spend one’s time and money. Heavens, not even the character that ‘Carson’ from Downtown Abbey plays in this film is likable. He’s a miserable scheming accountant— uggh!!!
But I will give the film this—- every single week, and sometimes every single day, my wife and I get phone calls trying to snooker two older persons into giving up there money for— fraudulent insurance schemes, or get rich quick investments, or offering help to correct one’s computer viruses and problems, or asking for money for a supposed charity, which turns out to be bogus…. and so on. Most of these callers are not convincing liars, like ‘Roy’ in this not quite 2 hour film. It is neither fun nor funny to watch someone try to take advantage of vulnerable older people.But there is at least one telling line in the film— namely ‘Only God, the Devil, and the dead know whether I am lying or not’ says one of schemers in the film. Sometimes this is true. Our country is inundated with liars these days— from the highest office in the land right on down. People lying about everything— their names, their ages, their health, their tax returns, their assets, their accomplishments, their loves, their ancestry, and I could go on. And perhaps now it is time to note that the Bible says Satan is the father of lies, the one who is really responsible for all sorts of fake news. Sometimes in the films, there are charming, roguish liars, who are mostly harmless. This is not one of those films…… alas, poor liar, I know thee well.