Sir Ian McKellen is one of the more interesting and unique faces on the Hollywood scene, popping up every now and again in a bizarre array of roles, from the kindly wizard Gandalf, to British novelist Arthur Conan Doyle, to a talking clock in Beauty & The Beast, and then disappearing quietly. Now, the Shakespearean actor is looking to nab his first Academy Award (not to mention a tidy profit at the box-office) with an elegant thriller where he will portray the cunning con-man Roy Courtnay, as he attempts to swindle a wealthy widow (Helen Mirren) out of her fortune.
The trailer itself is a work of art, beautifully edited and armed with the combined talents of McKellen’s charming (but oh, so evil) criminal and killer, and Mirren’s upper-class delicacy – whether arguing with her grandson or sprawled in shock across a floor, the actress is a portrait of perfection in these two minutes of action, suspense, and romantic drama.
Well, let’s amend that to just drama. While the official synopsis claims that McKellen’s character will develop true feelings for Mirren, leading to conflicts between him and his shadier business-associates, we see virtually none of that here – for the better, in my opinion. We’ve seen a sweet, mild-mannered McKellen so many times over the duration of his career that it will be a nice change to have him show off just how dangerous and dastardly he can be. That’s the McKellen we want to see, and that’s the McKellen we do see here – he’s throwing people in front of moving trains and smiling over his wicked schemes. He even has a villainous mustache! But you better savor this version of the character now, before the film reveals him to be a troubled soul who’s really not quite as bad as he makes out to be.
The film has a juicy release date in the middle of November, where it will undoubtedly be ripe for awards season (apart from McKellen, I could see Russell Tovey maybe winning some much-needed recognition for work in the film, where he plays Mirren’s concerned grandson), and could also rake in a comfortable profit at the box-office – director Bill Condon was the mastermind behind the huge financial successes of Beauty & The Beast and the final two Twilight movies.
Trailer Rating: 10/10