The Good Lie Blu-ray review
“In 1973, a brutal civil war broke out in Sudan between the North and the South over religion and resources, leaving villages destroyed by northern government armies and militia. By 1987, thousands of orphaned children began to flee on foot across sub-Saharan Africa, walking as many as a thousand miles to Ethiopia and then Kenya. Thirteen years later, 3600 refugees would be relocated to the U.S.A. They were known simply as ‘The Lost Boys of Sudan.’”
In one of the opening scenes, aircrafts fly above and shoot down at a small Sudanese village. Some of the survivors make it how they can, fending off leopards so they can take the remains of their prey, an antelope. Accompanying text helps give a timeline to the exhausting journey of a tightknit group—Mamere (Arnold Oceng), Jeremiah (Ger Duany), Paul (Emmanuel Jal) and the sole girl, Abital (Kuoth Wiel)—who seek shelter and dodge gunfire until they reach a refugee camp in Kenya.
It’s there that it’s revealed that certain refugees will be able to board a plane for the States, among them, yes, Mamere, Jeremiah, Paul and Abital, with the boys heading to Kansas City, Missouri and Abital going to Boston due to Immigration and Naturalization Service rules. The boys’ primary contact in the States is Carrie Davis (Reese Witherspoon, who also starred in Atom Egoyan’s DEVIL’S KNOT, Paul Thomas Anderson’s INHERENT VICE and Jean-Marc Vallée’s WILD this year), an agent whose job it is to find them work and housing.
There are fish out of water elements that offer the occasional chuckle (like the boys first seeing the McDonald’s Golden Arches, and one’s telling of the classic “Why did the chicken cross the road?” joke), but the overall tone is a serious one, as such a story requires. Also contributing to this is the point that the majority of the main characters are all played by individuals who actually experienced and lived through the Second Sudanese Civil War.
Another commendable aspect of THE GOOD LIE is that, despite casting Witherspoon as the face who will get audiences in theaters, the character of Carrie is never treated as the “white savior.” She begins as a flawed woman who at first isn’t all the interested in being responsible for the boys and wants them pawned off as quickly as possible; her inevitable turnaround doesn’t happen because there is a need to make her a saint, but rather because she has undergone a genuine transformation in character.
The difficulties of being a stranger in a strange land are finely executed by director Philippe Falardeau (2012’s IN THE NAME OF THE SON, 2011’s MONSIEUR LAZHAR, which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film) and screenwriter Margaret Nagle (the HBO movie WARM SPRINGS), who both show respect for the people for the majority of the movie. (One notable exception is the stripping down of the war’s brutality, which was clearly done to avoid an R rating, even though it would have made the movie much more powerful.) It’s not sappiness they go for, but rather care.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The landscape shots in the Sahara are stunning, while the rest of the movie features a clean image and fine details.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; French 5.1 Dolby Digital; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The audio is also strong, with clear dialogue and sound effects.
THE GOOD LIE Journey (16:19): This making-of featurette uses interviews and on-set footage to offer looks at the story, characters and more.
Deleted Scenes (15:06): There are a total of 15, which aren’t long enough to add much.