THE GOOD LIAR*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Aurora
The movie stars with Betty (Helen Mirren) and Roy (Ian McKellen) filling out a dating website questionnaire. They find and like each other’s profiles. They begin chatting online and agree to meet for dinner.
At dinner, Betty mentions that her grandson is all she has, and Roy says that his wife has been gone for a few years now. They talk about the advantages of dating websites. Roy admits that he gave a false name on the website. His name is not Brian, its Roy. And Betty says that her name isn’t Estelle, it’s Betty.
Betty’s grandson picks her up, and Roy catches a cab to a strip club. He meets other men in a back room. They don’t give names, but Roy and his partner Vincent (Jim Carter) make a proposition for the others to make money with them on a business deal. One man, Bryn, wants to know who else is in the deal. Russians, perhaps? But Roy only says they are interested in becoming part of the English invested class. Each man stands to make 50,000 pounds. Bryn is in.
Later, Roy and Betty leave a movie theatre, and Roy’s knee starts acting up. He can’t walk, so Betty takes his arm. Turns out, Roy only wanted to get closer to her. They both have a laugh.
Roy and his maid decorate a room with art painting. Then later, he has a meeting with various men, including Bryn and Vincent, around a table in that very room. At the meeting, Roy transfers 200,000 pounds in the business account. He wishes for the new businessmen to transfer 800,000 pounds, but one man Vlad is unhappy with the amount and walks away. Bryn is upset.
Roy meets Betty again at a cafe, but it’s closed. Betty shares that she bought a new car. Roy wishes she wouldn’t have because people of their age get taken advantage of by salesmen. Betty says it was nothing. She paid cash. Roy is very interested.
She takes him home. Her grandson Steven comes home and meets Roy. Steven offers to drive Roy home, and Betty goes along for the drive. She discovers Roy lives on the top floor and offers for him to stay at her house, so he doesn’t have to climb all the stairs. Roy declines. But pretends his knee acts up as he walks to the door.
They arrive back at her house, and she shows Roy the guest room, which he hates because it’s not very comfortable.
The next morning Roy watches a group of walkers exercising and notices a driver in a car parked nearby watching Roy. The car drives away. In the kitchen, Steven cautions Betty about getting too close. Roy overhears them and enters the room. Then he defends himself to Steven.
Betty makes Steven drive Roy, where ever he wants to go. They drive to the hospital so Roy can visit a friend. But he doesn’t go in. Instead, he walks (he’s not injured) to his office. Roy, Bryn, and Vincent and meet again with Vlad. Each man agrees to increase their portions, and the deal is made. But sirens are heard down the street. Roy rushes to the window. They’re coming for them! Roy fakes a heart attack while Bryn runs out. The cops chase him down the street while Roy stands back up, healthy as a horse. Turns out Roy, Vincent, and Vlad were in cahoots together to get Bryn’s money.
Steven picks Roy back up at the hospital, and at dinner, Betty celebrates Steven leaving to serve his country. Steven asks how Roy got a scar on his neck, and Roy is uncomfortable with the question. He says he would prefer not to lie so he won’t answer. Then jokes that he got the scar by cutting himself shaving.
Again Roy notices the same car outside Betty’s house driving by. He’s suspicious. The next morning Vincent picks him up. Vincent gives a status update on their scheme. It looks like they’re going to get away with it because Bryn thinks they’re in custody.
They drive to a butcher shop. Turns out, Vlad works there. Vlad doesn’t want his share because he knows who Roy really is. Roy has their “men” sneak up behind and hurt Vlad’s hand with a butcher’s hammer.
At Betty’s house, Roy introduces Vincent as his investment advisor to Betty. Betty is shocked to find out that Roy wants to leave something to Betty. She doesn’t like it. She would prefer him to leave it to his son, but Roy doesn’t want to because the son builds kitchens. They get on the topic of Betty’s income. She has her retirement fund, savings, and the house, which she paid cash for. Her total asset comes in over 2 million. Vincent steers the topic of conversation and tries to convince Betty to open a joint account with Roy. She politely says she’ll think about it then leaves.
Later that night, Betty goes to the kitchen and sees a man standing outside her window. He runs away when she yells for Roy.
The next morning, Roy tells Vincent someone tried to break in last night. Later they have lunch with Betty and show her a check of Roy’s profits from his investments, which is 20,000 pounds. Steven shows up and is suspicious about what’s going on. Betty is embarrassed about Steven’s outburst, and Vincent leaves. Once again, Roy puts on a good show, and Steven apologizes.
Roy and Betty go to dinner. Roy suggests they take a trip. They discuss to take a trip while Betty cuts his hair the next day. But Betty falls and can’t get up. Roy calls the doctor. Turns out, Betty had a minor stroke. Roy wants to know what the treatment is, but Betty refuses to live as if she’s already dead. The doctor says she won’t live out the year.
As Roy tucks her into bed, Roy suggests they go to Berlin, just the place Betty wanted to go.
The next day they go shopping for Roy. Getting him hats and ties and suits. While they’re out, Bryn spies on them. Roy notices Bryn through the window reflection. He agrees to meet Betty in an hour at a restaurant then dashes to the tube, hoping to lose Bryn. But Bryn confronts him. Bryn has figured out the scheme. Roy readies a sharp pin then turns to face Bryn. He jabs him in the stomach then in the eye and pushes him in front of a train. He dies instantly. Roy leaves during the commotion to meet with Betty.
In Berlin, Steven shows up and, as an apology, offers to be a tour guide for Betty and Roy. At a museum, Betty remarks on how the Germans were overconfident and how it lead to their downfall during the war.
Betty goes off exploring and comes back with a bad scrap on her palm. Roy tends to her.
Later, Steven takes them to a mysterious flat. Roy is hesitant about entering like he knows what flat it is. In the Kitchen, Steven confronts Roy about who he is. Steven says he searched Roy’s record and discovered his past. The flat they’re in is Roy’s apartment. Roy says Steven’s got it wrong. In the war, he searched for Nazis. They stationed him in Berlin along with his section.
In a flashback, we see a young Roy and military partner walking the streets of Berlin. They enter the same apartment that Steven just took them to. Young Roy questioned the flat’s German-speaking occupant to find out if he supported the socialist movement. The occupant exits to the kitchen, and the partner follows him. The occupant holds a knife to his throat while Roy pulls a gun on him. They struggle, and the partner was killed by the occupant. But Steven knows his stuff. His research shows that the occupant’s report of the incident shows that both men died. Roy explains it that yes, both he and the partner were knocked down when the occupant left the flat, but minutes later, Roy got up and saw his dead partner. At this point, Young Roy chooses to steal his dead partner’s British identity to escape the country that had given him a lifetime of misery. Roy asks if Steven could find anything else in the military files or anything else, and Steven can’t come up with anything. Betty gets upset and says she doesn’t want to see him for a while. Steven leaves.
They travel back home, and Betty wishes to go forward with the joint banking account. Roy and Vincent meet at their “office” and discuss how they’re going to swindle Betty’s money. Roy is determined not to retire with nothing. He wants to live comfortably for the rest of his life. Vincent voices his hesitations because Betty is ill. Roy has second thoughts about hurting Betty because he’s too close to her. But both choose to go forward with the scheme.
Betty and Roy have a meeting with Vincent the next morning. They both are ready to proceed. When it comes time for Betty to transfer all her funds into the Caribbean account, Betty questions if it’s best to transfer all of it. Vincent points out that the less Betty puts in, the less she can get in return. Roy has no hesitations and transfers all his funds into the account. Vincent is surprised to see that Roy has indeed transferred all his money. Betty is shocked to see that the amount is over 3.8 million pounds. Betty then transfers her funds. They now both have access to the account then Betty suggests “Lilies” as the password because there’s a painting of lilies in the kitchen.
Vincent leaves, and they drink champagne as they discuss how to spend their profits when they get some. Roy gets a call from his son. He’s in town for a kitchen show. Betty offers to drive him, but Roy insists on taking the train. Roy packs his things but tells Betty is just an overnight bag. Betty sees him off.
Roy gets drunk in an almost empty flat. He searches his bag for his keypad, but he can’t find it. He calls Vincent but receives a voicemail. The online customer service can’t help him, and he’s very upset. In the middle of the night, Roy has no choice but to go back to Betty’s house. He enters to find empty rooms and Betty sitting in a dark room. She flicks on a light. Betty asks what he’s doing, and Roy says his son’s flight was delayed. Betty pulls out the keypad and shows Roy that she’s logged in. She says every time he lies, she’ll transfer 50,000 pounds out of their account and into an account Roy doesn’t have access to. He keeps on lying, and she transfers 200,000 out in less than one minute. She knows he came back for the keypad. She knows he doesn’t have a son. He asks what’s going on, and she replies, you know what’s going on, you must have known the whole time. Then she nods toward the painting of lilies.
In a flashback, we see Betty as a young girl in Berlin. Her name is Lily. She’s waiting for a boy named Hans to come to give her another English lesson. While she gets ready, Hans waits for her. Hans moseys into the living room to watch Betty’s three sisters dancing. He begins dancing with one. He tries to kiss her, but she pushes him away. When she tries to walk away, he steps on her dress, ripping it badly. Then Lily is ready for her English lesson.
Going back to Roy and Betty, Betty reveals to us that Roy is Hans.
Young Lily then asks how Hans feels about her. He says he’s fond of her, and she asks if fond means love. Hans makes her stand up and close her eyes. He kisses her then forces himself on her. After, her mother comes in and sees Lily walk out from behind a room divider. The mother orders Hans to follow her. Downstairs, Lily’s father wants to know what just happened. Hans doesn’t know if they know he just raped their daughter. The sisters say Hans tried to kiss one of them, but he denies it. Lily comes downstairs and hears the conversation. Then runs out of the room, distraught. Her father cancels the English lessons.
Betty (Lily) then says that two days later, her father was arrested. Someone (Hans) announced him as a traitor. The family’s money and business were confiscated. It was all too much for her mother, so it was just Lily and her sisters. During the war, her sisters died. Then her father committed suicide when Lily told him the news.
Roy tries to explain his actions, but Betty keeps on transferring funds. Finally, he says he wanted to teach her father a lesson but that she could have just talked to him. She knew that wouldn’t have mattered. She needed to study him. Track him. Know his weaknesses. She hires a researcher to track Roy’s criminal career. The researcher is Steven. They get to know the kind of person Roy liked to swindle. So Betty knew how to answer the dating website questions.
Their first meeting is shown again, and this time, we see Betty with a look in her eye.
She then explains the day she cut her palm in Berlin happened back at her family’s old house. It is now a children’s charity. She enters the library room and begins to cut into the carpet. She hurts herself on the nails but still manages to retrieve her silver locket with his hair in it. She reveals that when she was cutting his hair earlier in the film, she kept it to use it for testing.
She tells Roy that once he left to see his son, she transferred all her money out of the joint account. Vincent helped her. Turns out, Steven threatened Vincent before they left for Berlin. Also, the man watching the house is one of Betty’s grandsons. Steven and the grandson helped Betty set up the whole thing. As well as the doctor.
Roy questions why go through all of this. Betty knew the only way to go on was to face Roy. Roy gets on his knees to ask for forgiveness. Betty says she’s moved on from that. Betty gives back the keypad that shows Roy now only has 100,000 pounds.
As she tries to leave, Vincent enters, and he grabs her while she tries to escape. They struggle, but Betty gets the upper hand. She rises to leave again only to see Vlad and his backup in the doorway. He just wants his money, which is 100,000 pounds. Betty tells them Roy has it, and if he says otherwise, he’s lying.
Betty leaves the house as we hear Roy’s screams.
Later, at a hospital, Vincent visits Roy, who now is not able to speak and is miserable.
Elsewhere, Betty and Steven have tea with her family, the doctor, and friends. She hears little girls screaming in a distant field. It’s her granddaughters. She warns them to be careful.
(Submitted by Shay)
Roy prepares to use the keypad to empty the joint account, only to discover he is missing the keypad (Betty stole it from his bag while he was out of the room). He returns to Betty's house to confront her and finds it empty of furnishings except for one chair where she is seated. She has both keypads, but has already transferred her funds out. She threatens Roy with removing 50,000 pounds every time he lies, and they converse about their backstory:
Betty is actually Lilly and Roy is actually Hans, both Germans who were children in Berlin during WWII. Hand was tutoring Lilly in English when he insulted one of her sisters by trying to kiss her. He was rebuffed, but afterward raped Lilly instead ("I was small," Betty says, "it was easy."). Her father fired Hans for trying to kiss the older sister, only for Hans to denounce him to the Nazis. The father was executed, the mother killed herself, and the four sisters had to start a boarding house. All but Lilly were killed by a bomb, and then she had to survive Russian occupation alone.
She went on to have a rich, fulfilling life and marriage, but never forgot what Hans had done. When her grandson became romantic partners with a brilliant historian, he helped her track Hans over time, his transformation into "Roy Courtney," his many cons and crimes, his associates. This historian is Steven, whom she earlier introduced as her grandson. Her actual grandson has been watching the house the entire film (Roy thought he was suspicious earlier, but he was actually there to keep an eye on his gran).
Roy tries to get the keypad from Betty violently, but she manages to fight him off and uses her phone to signal outside. The two who come in are both previous victims of Roy's schemes, and he can be heard screaming in pain as Betty walks away from the house.
Roy ends up a near-vegetable in the hospital, impoverished and alone except for his former associate Halloran's mocking company. Betty/Lilly closes the film happily surrounded by her many children and grandchildren, including Steven and her grandson. She watches her granddaughters play in the pond, safe and happy.