The Good Lie – Review


I think we can all agree with the following: trailers, movie posters, and other material that is used to market movies these days should not be trusted. This is the case with The Good Lie. I went into the theater expecting a film that features the story of a strong, but good-hearted woman that rescues a small group of refugees from Sudan; a Blind-Side-esque movie starring Reese Witherspoon, instead of Sandra Bullock. I will have to say that I was blindsided by this movie. It was not what I had expected and it is not your typical Hollywood type of feel-good movie with very little tangible substance behind it.

hugs Arnold Oceng stars as Mamer the oldest living son of a tribal chief and the main protagonist of the movie. Oceng is supported by Ger Duany as Jeremiah, the spiritual one of the group; Emmanuel Jai as Paul, the emotional troubled brother and Kuoth Wiel as the sister who becomes the matriarchal figure in the group. Reese Witherspoon is in a supporting role here as Carrie, a recruiter that is working for an employment agency that has been tasked to find jobs for the three brothers, a requirement by the US immigration. The title of the movie comes from a scene where one of the brothers is studying Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn”. A “good lie” is an untruth in which the justice of the outcome supersedes the wrong of having lied. There are times when a lie can be a good lie.

The initial act of the The Good Lie is rewarded by a feel-good third act, while the second act explores a bureaucratic, domestic and informative nightmare felt by Sudanese refugees entering the US pre 9/11 as they adjust to live in America. This adjustment to a new life is in direct contrast to the stark reality of growing up during the Sudanese Civil war. The film starts off with a dangerous trek on foot after their village and family have been destroyed thanks to a military scourging. What is left after this ambush on their village is a group of young children consisting of three brothers and one sister that now must set out on foot to a UN Refugee camp. Along the way, they cross paths with two other young boys that have been displaced by the war, and these new brothers continue the journey with them. This is the toughest part of the movie to watch. We see how human beings can be so cruel with the murder of two of the group, but at the same time we see the capacity for people in horrific events to be so kind and caring.welcome

Making it to the UN camp, we flash forward sixteen years where the remaining members of the group – now in their early twenties – having been approved to immigrate to the United States. The three brothers are sent to live in Kansas City while their only sister is sent to Boston due to Immigration policies. We follow the brothers as they try to adapt to an entirely new culture as they cope with trying to fit into their new life in America. This is where Reese Witherspoon’s character, Carrie, enters the picture. She works for an employment agency that has been tasked to find jobs for the three brothers, a requirement by the US immigration. She is harsh and cares little for anything but herself and her job. Initially, she is frustrated by the brothers and the problems they bring but as she begins to learn of their story of hardship and perseverance her heart softens.

The Good Lie is a glorious film and is timed perfectly for the late season Oscar push. The choice to cast Sudanese actors whose real-life stories parallel the characters they play makes the movie feel credible and true. The cast along with the direction of Philippe Falardeau and producer Ron Howard have made a credible, lively, and very intelligent film.  I sat down expecting a by-the-numbers movie that I have seen before and what was delivered is an incredible and tragic story that I had not anticipated. It was impressive how the movie hit almost every mark that it needed. I would highly recommend The Good Lie. It is a thoroughly thought provoking and inspirational experience.

I give The Good Lie  out of 5 Stars

4 stars

By Don Powers

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