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Last week, I reviewed two films: Hope Gap and Spencer. Tina reviewed Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan, which features C.S. Lewis. Tina promises that you don’t need to remember the Narnia books in order to enjoy this book.
Like last week, we saw two British films this week that were thematically similar. Both The Courier and The Good Liar could be described as thrillers, with unexpected twists and turns to keep the viewer engaged.
The Good Liar (2019) stars Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen, so we were inclined to like it from the beginning. Roy Courtnay is a con-artist who arranges to meet Betty McLeish, a wealthy widow. The first bit of fun, for us, was realizing that we wouldn’t fall for either of the first two cons that we watch Roy set up. I suspect that’s a good way to bring an audience along for a story — let us feel smug about being smarter than the most gullible people portrayed. I can’t say more without taking away the fun of watching this twisty film yourself, so I’ll stop there. Watch it for the London setting and for the pleasure of seeing two great British actors working together.
The Courier (2020) gives us Benedict Cumberbatch as a Cold War-era businessman, taken by surprise when he’s asked to participate in subterfuge in the Soviet Union by MI6 and the CIA. The Courier is based on fact. We’d never heard of Greville Wynne, but that’s why we enjoy films like this. Both Cumberbatch and the actor who plays his Soviet contact, Merab Ninidze, put in stunning performances in this film. Much of the action happens in the Soviet Union, but there are some scenes in London to enjoy, too.
We watched both of these on DVD from Netflix. I’m sure they’re available at libraries, too.
Have you seen either of these films? What did you think?