Reese Witherspoon, Corey Stoll, Sarah Baker. Drama. Written by Margaret Nagle. Directed by Philippe Falardeau.
FILM SYNOPSIS: After their village is attacked and slaughtered by terrorists, a Sudanese refugee and his brothers and sister are allowed to enter the United States. They’ve come from a small plains village with absolutely no modern conveniences we take for granted in America. So, imagine the culture shock they must endure as they attempt to adjust to their new home.
PREVIEW REVIEW: As a critic, I’ve had some interesting, frustrating and even spiritually rewarding moments while attending movie screenings. One that touched me the most happened at a recent viewing of The Good Lie. During the opening scenes, a village in the Sudan is attacked by terrorists, with defenseless adults and children being gunned down. This sequence had an emotional impact on the gentleman sitting next to me, which in turn affected me.
Suddenly the man began to sob. This very tall, fit young black man quickly reduced in size, completely shattered by the depiction on the screen. It wasn’t an Indiana Jones adventure to him. This was real.
Both the man on the other side of him and I put a hand on his shoulder to in some small way offer comfort. He regained his composure and had the guts to stay there for the entire movie. Later, I was to discover that he had survived such an attack. Others he knew hadn’t.
It’s easy to become jaded by the blockbusters that bombard our Cineplexes. Horrors and injustices taking place in our world too often serve as fodder for moviemakers who know something about placing action adventure on celluloid, but fail to relate the evil of man’s inhumanity to man. And we sit there, eating our popcorn, as concerned about the death toll as we demonstrate over the fate of victimized video game pixels. Though the word may seem overused as to how we deal with injustice, desensitized still fits.
While viewing the film’s opening sequence, I suddenly became aware of the horrors being done to our fellow man all over the world. It is a bleak time, because there are several Hitlers now in power, each determined to end the existence of other religions, races or nations. I was also reminded by this film that we’re not on this planet just to attend T-ball games and save for retirement’s cottage by the sea. This is our time to develop our spiritual walk with Christ, draw closer to our Creator by trusting in Him, and generate a caring nature for others…Well, that’s what it had to say to me.
The film’s one weakness is the failing to explain why the Sudanese were targeted. The producers assume all moviegoers know the history of the Sudan. By now, we all should know not to assume, for it makes an ass out of u and me.
Who are the terrorists, Mr. Filmmaker? Is this a religious cleansing on the part of the attackers? And has this situation been contained, or is it still going on? Never assume moviegoers are getting the answers from the nightly news. Many aren’t watching the nightly news.
One of the inspiring aspects of The Good Lie is that Christian organizations are seen taking the lead in aiding the Sudanese victims. Of course, much of the Christian involvement depicted on screen is in code, as if the producers are wary of showing Christians in too positive a light.
It saddened me that one religious organization worker (played by Sarah Baker) was portrayed as a kind of dopy (make that, dopier) version of Bridesmaids’ Melissa McCarthy. When offered tequila, Ms. Baker says “Praise Jesus,” then her character proceeds to get drunk. It’s the hard-bidden, non-religious woman (played by Reese “Do you know my name?” Witherspoon) who manages to save the day.
Though The Good Lie (title taken from a Huckleberry Finn reference) has some brutal moments that are unsettling, it is full of humor evenly mixed with warmth and pathos. And by the end of this illuminating theatrical experience, we are also reminded of how blessed we are to be in America.
The Good Lie is engaging, enlightening and spiritually rewarding.