A powerful story about Sudanese children of war, starring… Reese Witherspoon?
“The Good Lie” is the true story of a group of Sudanese children who are refugees of war and must find their way to safety. The movie stars actual Sudanese refugees in the main roles as we see how their perseverance and character takes them through unimaginable circumstances to finding lives and jobs in the US. Reese Witherspoon also steps in as a woman in the states helping them find jobs and adapt to a new culture. As with many true story films, this one lives and dies with the power of it’s underlying journey, and thankfully there is a lot of powerful stuff here to bear witness to.
Honestly, there is a real depth and even brutality to what these Sudanese kids had to go through to escape war. Walking thousands of miles on their own and encountering the full spectrum of the hurts and joys of life. It’s a vivid reminder of exactly how privileged most of us are and how resilient the human spirit can be. The movie also feels completely authentic, with setting and actors that are the real deal, adding to the impact. I also loved that despite how prominent Reese Witherspoon’s face is on the poster, the movie doesn’t take the route of Americanizing the story. We spend almost all of our time experiencing the journey of these kids with the American roles playing support to their story in a seemingly honest and appropriate way. Don’t let the ads fool you, this isn’t a Reese witherspoon movie. I mean she’s good in it and everything, but the movie does a great job of centering on the true heroes of the story, even if the marketing didn’t. I also thought the movie did a great job balancing the humor and drama that come with being a fish out or water in a new environment. Allowing us to smile at the misunderstandings, but not take too lightly what a tough adjustment it would be as well.
The only issue I really had with the movie was that for such a powerful and sweeping story, it felt very muted. The storytelling is pretty basic with not much flair or personality things like shot selection or scoring. It also may partially be due to these new actors, whose matter of fact delivery, though authentic and endearing, can make the dialog feel a bit bland and understated for such a compelling tale.
Overall, “The Good Lie” is a powerful story worth telling. Even if it can feel a bit bland in it’s delivery, the authenticity of the characters and it’s willingness to keep the focus on the journey of these kids through the harshest conditions land this one safely at a B+