The Good Lie
Based on an incredible true story, The Good Lie recounts the tale of four Sudanese refugees immigrating to the USA at the turn of the millennium in hope of a better life. As the title suggests, this film explores the undesirable cultural differences between the honesty and hardship of Sudan, and the wasteful consumption and complex lies of the USA – and possibly the west as a whole.
The publicity for this film could lead many audiences to believe this is a “white saviour” narrative, as the immigrants encounter Carrie, an employment agency counselor who changes all their lives for the better. It’s important to note, however, that the film begins in Sudan, which ensures our allegiance is with Mamere (Arnold Oceng), Jeremiah (Ger Duany), Paul (Emmanuel Jal) and Abital (Kuoth Wiel) throughout. It is through their eyes we see the horrors of the Sudanese conflict and the American way of life.
To avoid focusing too heavily on the difference rhetoric, the film turns its attention towards the relationship between the three brothers rather than on Reece Witherspoon’s character Carrie. It is from their perspective that the audience is allowed to engage with humanity rather than the political. When it tackles other thorny issues like the bureaucratic changes in the USA following 9/11 it does so solely from their perspective, which lends plenty of nuance to the situation, as well as places trust in the audience’s prior knowledge.
The cultural differences are sometimes too on-the-nose, but it’s the chemistry and performances by the three leading men that maintain the film’s charm and heart. Whenever the social commentary begins to preach, they are at hand to keep it rooted in a heart-warming dramatic discourse.
The Good Lie is shot in typical Hollywood fashion, and anyone who’s aware of producer Ron Howard’s work will understand he knows how to focus on a topic’s humanity. The chemistry, the performances, and the dialogue between the Sudanese brothers is where the heart of the film is at, and where the film’s attention is rightfully aimed.
The Good Lie is released nationwide on 24th April 2015.
Watch the trailer for The Good Lie here: