The Good Lie: REVIEW

Three of the “Lost Boys” orphaned by Sudan’s vicious Civil War are among the thousands of young victims forced to travel thousands of miles on foot towards safety. And when a humanitarian effort allows a large number of them to relocate to America 15 years later, they are given the chance to start a new life.

Reese Witherspoon may be the most famous star in The Good Lie, but the movie really belongs to three actors you’ve never heard of.

Actors Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, and Emmanuel Jal all were real-life “lost boys” who lost their homes and families in the midst of Civil War, watched their friends die from disease and animal attacks, and faced starvation as they traversed the African desert in search of refuge; Emmanuel Jal was even forced into slavery as a child soldier for a number of years. Now they’ve been given the chance onscreen to bring life to the struggles thousands faced.

The Good Lie is a moving, emotional, humorous, and hopeful film about a real human crisis that is still ongoing in our world. And contrary to most Hollywood clichés, the film doesn’t approach this story about the Third World from the eyes of a Westerner, but rather from the perspective of those in the situation themselves, which is refreshing and important.

And as good as she is, the worst thing about this Reese Witherspoon movie may be Reese Witherspoon. Her character is responsible for getting the boys jobs and settling into American life, but this is not her story.

This is a story about humanity.  It’s a feel-good Hollywood tearjerker, but The Good Lie honestly earns those tears, as well as its laughs.

If the real tragedy and struggles of these innocent Sudanese children does not move viewers, and their small victories make them cheer, nothing will. It’s a poignant story about our common humanity – the triviality of so much we consider important, of redemption, forgiveness, loyalty, and family.

The Good Lie powerfully tells the story of Sudan’s “Lost Boys” with three actors who experienced it firsthand. Both entertaining and important, it’s definitely a film worth your attention. But if they needed to add Reese Witherspoon into the mix to plaster a famous pretty girl all over the posters and get people to actually go see the movie, then who am I to argue? I guess that’s a good lie.


The Good Lie is rated PG-13 for language and brief violence.

© Matt Tory, 2014. 

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