The Good Lie

by | Jan 15, 2015 | 0 comments

A Documentary Disguised As a Film That Teaches Us What’s Important

The general public typically ignores documentaries because they don’t have the thrill or the intimacy that movies generally have. The Good Lie seems to be a disguised documentary that is teaching and informing the audience without them even knowing it. Through the partially fictional story of some Sudanese refugees, the story shows how they fled the civil unrest in their country to come to the United States. While it may seem that the film’s secret teachings are about the horrors of war in Sudan, its really showing us how lucky we are in first world countries.

The Good Lie begins looking at a peaceful Sudanese tribe. One day, however, some marauders storm the town and massacre all in their path. A group of children manage to escape. The children wander hopelessly through the wild, scavenging animal carcasses for food. The group walks thousands of miles and along the way they lose some friends either to a river, sickness, or bandits. The friends end up at a refugee camp with only four of their group left. At the refugee camp they learn about the west and how one day they will be flown to the United States to be incorporated in society. After a decade or so, the refugees learn English various skills. The leader of the four friends, Mamere (Arnold Oceng), has aspirations to become a doctor, he’s been practicing with American doctors at the camp for years, and he is able to diagnose patients on his own by now. The other three friends are: the rowdy Paul (Emmanuel Jal), the tall and gentle Jeremiah (Ger Duany), and the young and bold girl Abital (Kuoth Wiel). One fateful day they finally see their names on the list, all four of them! They are to be sent to Kansas City where they will be found a temporary home and jobs. The plane ride is surreal and a little scary for them, but their determination and optimism triumphs over any anxiety. But as the group arrives in Kansas, Abital is forced to movie to Boston. According to the charity company that brought the four friends to the US, females had to go live with an American family. The three boys are left desolate, but Mamere is determined to bring them back together.

Now in the US the real teaching begins for the audience as we see the Sudanese’s confusion with our complicated world. Why is perfectly fine food thrown out instead of given? Why does greed cause humans to trip each other up? Why aren’t there predators stalking us? Why do we have utensils for every little thing? The film injects some star power as a way to attract audience, so we see Reese Witherspoon playing Carrie, the woman in charge of finding them jobs, and we see House of Cards’ Corey Stoll who plays the head of one of the charities helping the Sudanese.

The movie’s art, as stated before, is in its subtle dramatization of a documentary subject. The film isn’t looking for juicy roles for their actors, it doesn’t look to dazzle with cinematography even with dialogue, for once a film intendeds to be all about the story. The character development is where we see the film’s essential lesson of showing us how much we have.

The Good Lie isn’t meant to be unpredictable; rather it’s meant to be a public service announcement for all: that we don’t fully appreciate what we have. 

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 69% 69%

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What is your favorite immigration movie? Let me know in the comments section.

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