‘The Good Lie’ a humble, subtle effort

Canadian director Philippe Falardeau of the acclaimed and”Monsieur Lazharand” (2011) offers his latest feature, and”The Good Lie,and” with finesse and humane tenderness that will truly inspire audiences from all walks of life.
Do not be fooled by the filmand’s poster, though. While a big smile from A-list Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon decorates the frame, this film is built around the life journeys of four young Sudanese refugees looking for a new beginning in America.
The story begins in the late 1990s, right in the middle of a civil conflict spreading a vicious plague of violence throughout the North African country. One happy village seems to be removed from the conflict: The children merrily play and the grown-ups go about their business. But all is lost when a group of guerrillas attack the village. Almost everyone is killed except for a handful of children. Led by the eldest child Theo, the group embarks on a long journey on foot on the African plains towards Kenya. Facing malnourishment, fatigue and wild animals, they try to keep their chins up and survive as best as they can.
Shot with a heartfelt sense of compassion, these sequences immediately engage us with the plight of these kids. All we want is to for them get to a safe place, yet on the road to the refugee camp Theo has to make a sacrifice that no child should have to make to save his band of brothers and sisters. The sacrifice will leave his younger brother Mamere with a lifelong feeling of guilt and trauma.
After 13 years in the camp, the remaining four of the group comprising Mamere, Paul, Jeremiah and Abital, who consider themselves family despite no blood relations, are given asylum by the United States. Full of hope and curiosity, the four fly off to Atlanta. Abital is assigned to a family in Boston while her brothers are sent off to Kansas City, Missouri. They are heartbroken to be separated from their sister, and this loss becomes the main drive to reunite with her as the boys try to adjust to life in the New World.
The first days in America are filmed in the tone of a culture shock comedy as the three and”Lost Boysand” (the given name for this particular generation of Sudanese refugees) encounter the cultural, societal and economic codes of this foreign country. Luckily they have the tough-cookie employment counselor Carrie (Reese Witherspoon), to aid them through the process. Itand’s important to point out that the character of Carrie is drawn out to be a realistic and down-to-earth supporting character who is not the guilt-ridden White Samaritan who is going to save the poor black folk, but just an ordinary, confused person who tries to help as much as she can within her own means. This is the strength of the movie for never does director Falardeau abandon the point of view of his lead characters Mamere, Paul and Jeremiah for the sake of tear-jerking and self-centric Westernized redemption fantasies while the trio struggle with expatriation, loneliness and an uncertain future away from home. The tone of comedy gradually gives way to a much more complicated and layered drama that digs into the deep traumatic past of the lead characters.
Yet, all is still full of hope, because despite all tribulations and difficulties the boys do not give up hope and try to find within themselves the strength to overcome the atrocities they were subjected to. Especially Mamere, who gets his final climactic sequence as he must finally confront his guilt regarding the sacrifice Theo was forced to make.
The film is a directorial success in style. Although the subject matter consistently walks on a thin rope between bitterness and tear-jerking melodrama, Falardeau refuses to succumb to either pathos. In this regard, the filmand’s standpoint takes its side by simple and honest humanity and urges the viewer to contemplate the state of our war-torn world.
No one is a hero or savior all African and American characters are individuals who try to exist on their own terms away from grandiose self-realization fantasies. This is as real as it gets, and within this reality and”The Good Lieand” respectably stands upright with its huge heart, never congratulating itself for its good intentions.
This is humble and subtle filmmaking and is a must watch.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman