Thursday, December 11, 2014

[Review] The Good Lie

Inspired by true events, The Good Lie tells the story of four friends that escape the war-torn country of Sudan and set out to make a life in the United States during the 1980s.

When Mamere (Arnold Oceng), Jeremiah (Ger Duany), Paul (Emmanual Jal), Abital (Kuoth Wiel) land, the group is unfortunately separated from Abital, who is Mamere's sister. However, we get the feeling that there will be a reunion later on.

The opening of the film spends a big deal of time on the group's backstory, and this works in its favor. Not only does it give the characters proper introductions, but we also see their treacherous situation and the horrible experiences they witnessed--from when they were just young children fleeing from bombs and gunshots in their village and seeing their parents die - to their arduous journey by themselves to a refugee camp. Over 30 minutes go by before the fish-out-of-water antics in America ensue. That's when Carrie (Reese Witherspoon) enters the picture. At first, she's seemingly detached and all business, but we all know how this aspect of the story is going to go.

Despite what the previews might lead you to believe, the story is fully anchored by Mamere, Jeremiah, Paul, and Abital. And there are some great performances from each of them to match. Director Philippe Falardeau (responsible for Monsier Lazhar, one of 2011's best films) made sure to select Sudanese actors who've had some of the same experiences in real life. Reese Witherspoon's character actually isn't in the film all that much, and her star power is almost an afterthought (even though she's still solid in this role). Margaret Nagle (whose latest writing credits are a pair of Boardwalk Empire episodes) turns in a serviceable script with some light humor.

The Good Lie is very predictable for the most part, it's a little on the glossier side, and some things are overly simplified, but it's still pretty impossible not to be moved.


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