The Good Lie

The Good LieWar ravages through Sudan. Many of the villages are completely obliterated. Those who survive are sent to refugee camps. Years after they were orphaned, brothers Mamere (Arnold Oceng), Jeremiah (Ger Duany), and Paul (Emmanuel Jal) are lucky enough to be sent to the United States. They are sent to Kansas City, where Carrie Davis (Reese Witherspoon) is tasked with helping them find, and keep, employment.

Not familiar with American culture at all, the 3 “Lost Boys of Sudan” don’t fit in, no matter how hard they try. Mamere is attending school, hoping to become a doctor. Jeremiah has a hard time adjusting to his new life, while Paul finds other “herbal” ways of coping.

The brothers go to Carrie to tell her about their sister, Abital (Kuoth Wiel). Abital had been sent to Boston. They are hoping she can get transferred to Kansas City to be with them. Carrie begins her mission to reunite the family. However, after the events of 9/11, the program to bring the refugees to the United States has been stopped, and regulations have been tightened, making it near impossible to bring them back together.

The Good Lie is based on the “true story” of The Lost Boys of Sudan, a group of Sudanese refugees brought to the United States. However, I’m not sure if this story is true, or if it is based on general experiences of these refugees. It seems an awfully specific story to not be based on an actual group of brothers.

While a devastating and, at the same time, inspirational story, the pace of the movie fluctuates. At times it moves slowly, at times it seems to skip ahead. For example, when Reese’ character begins her quest to bring Abital to Kansas City, there is not much detail between when she begins her mission and when the family is reunited. Aside from showing a bit of bureaucratic red tape that must be navigated, she essentially begins and ends the task in a matter of minutes. It feels they were trying to squeeze too much story into too small amount of time.

If the acting seems stilted at times, there is good reason for that. The actors who play the 3 brothers and their sister are, in fact, Sudanese refugees. While it makes more of an impact, and gives a more authentic feel to their experiences, it makes for an unpolished finish to the film.

While an inspirational story, I feel it was a bit underdeveloped at times. It is a feel good story about what this family was able to endure and, eventually, begin a new, better life. I just wish it were told a little better. It is a decent film to understand what others have gone through, and to put your problems in perspective. But it’s not a film I feel the need to sit through again.

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