The political becomes personal, eye-opening and moving in The Good Lie.
A cross-cultural story told in an engaging, family-friendly style, it can’t help but touch audiences (* * * out four; rated PG-13; opens Friday in select cities).
The heartbreaking story of the hundreds of thousands of Sudanese children left orphaned and displaced by a civil war in the 1980s was previously chronicled in the wonderful 2007 documentary God Grew Tired of Us: The Story of Lost Boys of Sudan.
An estimated 3,600 Sudanese orphans were permitted to immigrate to the USA, and The Good Lie tells a fictionalized tale of six of them who endured atrocities, watching as rebel soldiers murdered their parents and burned down their village. In addition to the horrendous emotional toll, they survived extreme physical hardships, walking — sometimes barefoot and dodging bullets — for 1,000 miles to safety in Kenyan refugee camps.
The film powerfully opens with the arduous journey undertaken by five boys and a girl, three of whom are siblings. They fend off wild animals, dehydration and gun-toting soldiers during their trek, and one boy perishes and another is taken off by soldiers.
When the remaining quartet reaches safety, they band together ever closer.
Director Philippe Falardeau tells the story in English and the African dialects of Nuer and Dinka, and refrains from showing terrible violence, resulting in a film that’s suitable for children older than 10.
The saga flashes forward 13 years to 2000 when the four refugees are granted permission to immigrate to Kansas City, Mo.
The screenplay by Margaret Nagle is loosely based on actual Sudanese refugees. Jeremiah (Ger Duany), Mamere (Arnold Oceng) and Paul (Emmanuel Jal) are given an apartment in Kansas City to share. Abital (Kuoth Wiel) is sent to live with a family inBoston, per the rules for young female refugees. It’s heartbreaking to see them separated.
The characters are played as children by the offspring of Sudanese refugees, while the adult characters are played by actors with ties to Sudan, a couple having been child soldiers.
Such wise casting makes the film all the more effective.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Claudia Puig