HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Good Lie
HTS Overall Score:80
True stories can sometimes be stranger or more powerful than fiction can ever be, and sometimes a true story can get twisted along the way. I was wondering how “The Good Lie” would turn out as it is based upon the true story of Sudanese refugees of war making it to America gussied up with a big name actor in the form of Reese Witherspoon. Would it be overly cheesy? Horribly clichéd with the only thing bringing in butts to the theater being the star power of Reese Witherspoon? Or would it actually be a good movie. There are some clichéd moments, some bits where the term “trite” could be used, but the film overwhelmingly surprised me with its feel good take on a horrible tragedy in real life.
Back in the 1980’s a huge conflict broke out in Sudan, a habit that is unfortunately common in that area, and whole villages were razed in the crossfire leaving thousands of children homeless. Traveling to Ethiopa and other surrounding countries, the children ended up in refugee camps where they tried to make a better life for themselves. In 1987 3600 Sudanese children dubbed “the lost children of Sudan” were transferred to America where they were allowed to have a new lease on life in the form of sponsored families. This is the tale of 4 of these children. Paul (Emmanuel Jal), Jeremiah (Ger Duany), Mamere (Arnold Oceng) and Abital (Kuoth Wiel) are chosen to travel to the U.S. where they are transferred to Kansas and in to the care of Carrie (Reese Witherspoon), a job placement rep in charge of getting them settled in. Carrie happens to be cold and uninterested type, just trying to do her job and not really caring about the charges she has under her guidance. Getting them a job is easy enough, after some elbow grease, and the 3 boys are given an apartment to get them started. Unfortunately Abital is sent off to Boston because no family in Kansas wanted her, so the 4 lifelong friends are separated.
Jeremiah and Mamere soon thrive, meeting the challenges that a new culture brings head on, sometimes a bit TOO head on at times even. Jeremiah is a man of faith and that faith opens up new opportunities for him, allowing him to soon teach a Sunday school class and excel at the job he’s been given. Mamere is eager to absorb knowledge as he wants to one day go to school and become a doctor, a dream that has burned in his heart since he was a child in the Kenyan refugee camp. Paul is the one that starts to lose his way though, falling in with the wrong crowd, getting involved in marijuana and beginning to act out in what he sees as an unfair world. At the same time we see a change in Carrie as she begins to understand just what these annoying little waifs have been through and soon has a fundamental change in her attitude. This is especially needed when Mamere finds out that his older brother, Theo, may still be alive in the refugee camp. A miracle in and of itself since Theo was presumed dead by the hands of the soldiers that killed their parents as children. Now Mamere has to make a choice. Will he stay and do nothing, or will he risk everything to reunite the family once more.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=35713[/img]I really enjoyed the first ¾ of the film immensely. It’s a feel good movie with a lot of heart, one that doesn’t try to bog itself down with too much melodrama, but instead floats on the clouds of good cheer and hope. There are moments where you deal with serious issues, especially dealing with the death of a friend or the struggles in fitting in with a new culture. However those moments aren’t the focus of the movie, but rather the outlier, giving freedom for the happier and funnier parts of cultural assimilation take the front stage. All of the 4 main actors are ACTUAL Sudanese refugees that made it over to America (except for one who just happens to be the son of one) and it really adds an air of authenticity to the actor’s performances and a connection to the pain they went through. My only real problem with the casting was Reese as I felt she didn’t really know how her character was supposed to fit into the situation. The uncaring American who suddenly gains a heart is nothing new, but with the actors at hand and the seriousness of the situation her sudden change from cold hearted to softie came across a bit trite at times.
Now I mentioned that I liked about ¾ of the film, and I’ll explain why. For the first hour and twenty five minutes the movie moves along at a smooth pace and kept me with a sappy smile on my face, but at the moment when we hear about Theo maybe being alive the movie shifts gears. Up to this point there was very moments where I thought “oh that’s cliché”, but the last 20 minutes or so fell into the Hollywood trap of trying TOO hard to make something happen that wasn’t in the original story. I won’t say what it is for that will spoil the ending, but needless to say it brought the movie down from a 4 star rating to it’s 3.5 that it is now.
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some violence, brief strong language and drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=35721[/img]“The Good Lie” comes to Blu-ray with a stellar looking video transfer that takes advantage of the beautiful African countryside as well as the more busy and crowded venue in the states. When in the wilds of Africa we’re greeted with a nice yellowish tinge to the color grading, and an amazing view of the luscious landscape. Whether it be the dry deserts of Sudan or the rivers of Kenya the picture just pops off the screen and leaves you in awe of the natural beauty. Even in the suburbs of America we have plenty of detail to go around as the boys work in their respective environments. Blacks are deep and inky, but sometimes they tend to be a bit TOO dark and there were some instances where I noticed a bit of black crush. The disc itself gives plenty of bitrate to the encode and we really don’t see any instances of digital compression except for some banding in the night sky.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=35729[/img]Given a 5.1 DTS-HD MA English voice track, “The Good Lie” sparkles just as much in the audio department as it does with the amazing video encode. The track has a surprising amount of depth and oomph for a dialogue driven film. The village attack that happens during the first 15 minutes of the film rocks you back on your heels as an attack helicopter roars overhead and starts blasting away at the village. Things settle down a bit once the children reach the refugee camp, but there are plenty of instances where the surrounds light up with the ambient noises of a busy U.S. city or the roar of an airplane as Mamere travels back to Kenya in his search for Theo. Bass is powerful and deep when its needed, and the dialogue is never lacking. Crystal clear vocals match perfectly with the rest of the track and don’t make the movie sound as front heavy as one would expect. Definitely a keeper.
• The Good Lie Journey
• Deleted Scenes
“The Good Lie” is a breezy feel good film that really kept me entertained far more than I expected to be. Sure there were a few cheesy moments, but they were few and far between which made their existence more forgivable in the grand scheme of things. The inclusion of actual Sudanese refugees really helped the story and while it may not be a GREAT movie, it certainly is a very good one (well, except for the ending of the third act, which left something to be desired). The audio and video are quite good, and besides the extremely anemic extra compliment, the package is quite pleasing for a collector. Definitely recommended for a watch.
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany
Directed By: Philippe Falardeau
Written By: Margaret Nagle
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 110 Minutes
Own “The Good Lie” on Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital HD on December 23rd
Buy The Good Lie Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Check it Outl
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