The Good Lie (2014, Philippe Falardeau)

The Good Lie deals with the immediate aftermath of war and its effects on the innocent individual, with the emphasis placed on the true story status. Director Philippe Falardeau explores this theme, through exploring the harrowing exchange of war and the second chance given to three Sudanese brothers and their younger sister as they are relocated to America. Interested in the seismic change that has affected their life, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood is lost – with the plot following more deeply the harsh reality that befell the four siblings as they prior to their relocation.

With an eye for both the cause and effect that the Second Sudanese Civil War had on these four characters, Falardeau splits his film into two easily distinguished sections – with the first complementing the second.

Beginning with the immediate aftermath of their families massacre – shot with a harsh level of realism that garners deep emotional connection – siblings Mamere, Paul, Jeremiah, Daniel and Abital begin the long trek across Africa. Led by Theo, an older child, the five refugees encounter many hazards on their way to safety. Waking up in long grass, Theo sacrifices himself to prevent the others from being found, with the five siblings then managing to find the Sudanese Refugee camp of Kenya. Daniel dies of a disease, and the four remaining children are left waiting for the situation to alter.

13 years later, the four characters win a lottery and get relocated in America, where they start new life and new jobs. Separated from their beloved sister, the three brothers and their employment counselor, Carrie Davis (Reese Witherspoon), begin to challenge laws in hopes of being reunited. Feeling guilty of Theo’s sacrifice, oldest sibling Mamere dreams of a day in which Theo can return, and the sacrifice can be repaid.

Although promotional material presents Witherspoon as the films lead, A Good Lie is truly carried by the four Sudanese newcomers. Performing with a deep intensity for the films plot, the four debutants distinguish their individual personas in a manner that completely compliments the difficult nature of the films overriding message. It is their story, and through the decision to cast actors with real life experience of the Civil War, director Falardeau manages to convey an artistic but hyper real retelling of a harrowing and difficult subject matter. With the harsh reality of what’s occurred shown on screen, and audience exposition given throughout, the film explores the Civil War fully – bringing a compelling and deeply heartrending account of troubled societies and the effect had on innocents.

With the plot line presented through its actors in a non-egotistical manner, A Good Lie is both compelling and informative to watch. Carrying enough contexts in the first half to bring credence to the second, the narrative explores a different side of war – absent from the majority of Hollywood productions. Through exploring a different culture, Falardeau manages to bring both facts and drama in an almost perfect balance. His decision to cast real life victims of Sudan’s Civil War brings the level of realism within this film to standards not usually explored within mainstream productions. Through careful direction the film appropriately conveys the hidden story of innocents affected by issues beyond their control.

Plot – 4

Acting – 3

Direction – 4

Special Effects – N/A

Retrospect – 3

Overall – 3.5