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Warning: spoilers for The Good Liar are in play. If you haven’t seen the film, please bookmark this page and come back once you’ve seen the film.
Twisted mysteries are something that the public certainly has a fascination with. Which is a good thing for director Bill Condon’s most recent film, The Good Liar, as it happens to be a story that could scratch that itch for amateur sleuths. Of course, when things get a little too twisty, it’s good to have a solution key to check, just to straighten things out. So if you’re ready to relive the ending to the film, and figure out who really conned who, you’ve come to the right place.
As usual, there is a prerequisite spoiler warning for this recap of The Good Liar’s ending. So if you haven’t seen the film, and you’re not the type of person that likes to spoil the plot beforehand, turn away. But if you’re ready to get dirty, and dig into the past of Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren’s sordid protagonists, then let’s get started.
What Happened At The End Of The Good Liar?
Throughout The Good Liar, we see Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) and Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) pursue a sort of courtship; one that even lasts through Betty’s grandson Steven (Russell Tovey) outing him as a German translator who assumed the identity of a British officer that died while the two were hunting a Nazi war criminal shortly after World War II.
After this point in The Good Liar, Roy and Betty’s relationship progresses to that point all of Roy’s cons must arrive at: the joint deposit. Throughout their time together, Roy has been softening her up to the point where she would go ahead with his scheme, thanks to his friend and partner Vincent (Jim Carter) acting as a "banker." The two lovebirds deposit their money into a joint account, and Roy supposedly goes off to see his estranged son as soon as this has happened.
In actuality, this was supposed to be Roy’s disappearing act, but the only problem is, he forgot the keypad he needs to draw the funds from the joint account. Which means he needs to go back to Betty’s house… which is now totally empty. As it turns out, Betty’s been The Good Liar the whole time, conning Roy into a corner and for a very important reason.
After a flashback explaining Betty’s motives, Roy is ready to try and kill her in order to get his money back and live to con another day. The only problem is, Betty bests him, and leaves him to two of his previous victims, some businessmen that she discovered have a bit of an axe to grind with Mr. Courtnay, if that is his real name. And trust us, it isn’t.
We last see Roy left in the hospital, debilitated by a stroke, and cared for by his only friend in the world: Vincent. At least he has a wall that mimics the beach he always wanted to retire on, and he can pretend his water is champagne.
Roy’s Con In The Good Liar
The Roy and Vincent con artist is all about fleecing their victims in investment schemes that are supposed to have high yield payouts. When in truth, Roy and Vincent drain the account of said funds, and disappear into the night. We see them pull this sort of transaction off with some Russian and English businessmen throughout The Good Liar, while also watching Roy trying to avoid the repercussions throughout his other con as a serial online dater.
There's not much difference between the two, as Roy treats his ladies like he treats his business associates, with the same scam and physical threats, if necessary; as we saw with his treatment of Betty in the finale. He’s weaseled his way into the life of Betty, who presented herself as a recently widowed history teacher who was supposed to not only be seriously ill, but also quite wealthy. Like £2 million wealthy. But his ultimate con is, he’s not really Roy Courtnay.
What Is Roy Courtnay’s Real Identity?
Before you ask, no Roy Courtnay isn’t an alias for Albus Dumbledore. Originally Hans Taub, a German man who served as an English translator during and after World War II, “Roy” assumes his identity after his namesake dies during an attempt to apprehend a fleeing Nazi war criminal after the war. Wanting to leave post-war Germany, Roy used his new name to make a new life in England. One that would eventually see him become the criminal magnate we see throughout The Good Liar.
This is all outed by Betty’s grandson Steven (Russell Tovey), who is an expert at researching people’s backgrounds and other historical matters. But despite his revelations, Betty supposedly has no problem with this, and allows the con to go on. Only Steven’s not really Betty’s grandson. And surprise surprise, Betty’s not really Betty.
What Is Betty McLeish’s Real Identity?
Sorry, but before you ask, no, Betty McLeish isn’t secretly Mama Shaw from the Fast and Furious franchise. Betty’s real name is Lilli, and she is also a German who immigrated to England after the war. The daughter of a factory owner, we learn in the big flashback towards the end of The Good Liar that she and her family were disgraced by an unknown party. That person is none other than Hans Taub, who as a young man, was an English tutor to Lilli, and an object of her affection.
At least, that was until Hans struck out with Lilli’s older sister, whom he had a crush on. Which led the enraged young man to rape Lilli out of spite, and ultimately got him fired from his tutoring job. By time these events have transpired, the woman who would later rename herself Betty McLeish would have her family sold out to the Nazis, leading her to her plot the ultimate counter-con.
Betty’s Con In The Good Liar
The Good Liar reveals that after living through the hell of seeing her family die due to wartime, suicide, and execution, Lilli swears vengeance on Hans Taub for being responsible for her family’s downfall. “Betty” eventually tracks down her quarry, and sets the bait by fabricating a fake residence, a false grandson (who’s really dating her true grandson,) and even creates an online dating profile to trap this villainous party.
Letting “Roy” work his con artist magic on her, she has Stephen confirm that “Roy” is really Hans, while his partner/her real grandson Michael spies on her mark and gathers intel. Wise to the game, she uses Vincent’s objections with Roy’s con against him, to make sure everything goes as Roy had planned. In the end, Betty knows Roy will come back for the keypad she kept from him, and she’s generous enough to leave him £100,000 to live off of. But knowing he won’t go for that, she sacrifices him to his former “investors” who go to work on him.
Oh, what a tangled web The Good Liar weaves for its audience; and if you’re left with your head spinning just a little it, it’s understandable. But with the guide above, you have all the information you need to set the film’s plot straight. Though if you want to put it all together again, feel free to see The Good Liar again, as it’s in theaters this weekend.