Astrology: Film: Review: ‘The Good Lie’ (2014)

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Whether it’s called the Motherland or Fatherland, one’s native country is an extension of family, especially in the face of tragic uprooting. The Good Lie, written and directed by Philippe Falardeau, uses the civil war in Sudan and the “Lost Boys” it generated as inspiration for a fictional story about how the human spirit strives to preserve and create family, no matter how bad the odds.

The movie starts in 1987 in a south Sudanese village. A handful of children, who often play at a simple game which involves naming the succession of their tribal grandfathers, quickly become orphans when rebel soldiers from the north descend. These youngsters evacuate the only home they’ve known and, along with some others they meet, eventually find refuge in Kenya. The group’s members, who are maternally protective of each other so that they may all survive, includes biological siblings Mamere and his sister Abital Deng, whose older brother, Theo, did not complete the journey. Theo lives out his name, which means “gift of God,” giving himself up to rebel soldiers to protect the others.

Time passes at the camp and the children reach young adulthood. Mamere (Arnold Oceng) and Abital (Kuoth Wiel) remain tight with Jeremiah (Ger Duany) and Paul (Emmanuel Jal), whom they bonded with on their arduous Kenya-bound journey. After more than a dozen years at the camp, the quartet is given passage, through a U.S. program, to Kansas City, with the exception of Abital whose host family is in Boston. Carrie Davis (Reese Witherspoon) is an employment-agency counselor, in Kansas City, whose objective is to get the trio working quickly.

Not surprisingly, the independent, non-nonsense, sexually liberated Carrie initially regards working with Mamere, Jermiah and Paul as her job. But as the young men begin to reveal deep seeded issues and values, and the absence of Abital becomes a moral and familial issue, she takes on a maternal role that parallels the nurturing traits of her refugee charges.

The movie’s “good lie” title, which is a falsehood tied to a higher motive, reveals its significance through a genuinely emotional event. Supported by her boss Jack (Corey Stoll), Carrie may not have, as one of the Sudanese men describes it, “a husband to fill her empty house” which initially presents as a train wreck no responsible caretaker would permit their children to live in. She does, however, become the makeshift and, ultimately, real-deal mom who, as the Sudanese refugees did, mothered each other.

Astrology Film Rating: ☽ (Moon)



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