Granger on Movies: 'The Good Lie'
Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon ("Walk the Line") stars as a smart 'n' sassy employment agency counselor assigned to find jobs for three of the Lost Boys of Sudan when they arrive in the United States. They're among the 100,000 orphaned children who walked nearly 1,000 miles, without food or shelter, to escape the civil war in sub-Saharan Africa in 1983.
Resembling the documentary "God Grew Tired of Us: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan," the prologue introduces six youngsters who survived the brutal massacre of their village. Because their parents were killed, they joined together, forming a tribal unit, as they made their way on foot to a refugee camp in Kenya. Miraculously, Mamere (Arnold Oceng), Jeremiah (Ger Duany), Paul (Emmanuel Jal) and Mamere's sister, Abital, (Kuoth Weil) endured.
After spending 13 years in the Kakuma refugee camp, the three young men are dispatched to Kansas City, while Abital is sent to live with a foster family in Boston. Scared and distraught at being separated, they're met at the Missouri airport by feisty Carrie Davis (Witherspoon), who realizes she has to teach them about basic American technology: how to work light switches, electrical appliances and the telephone. Only with her help can they can acclimate to this challenging, often bewildering new culture -- and, as a result, her life, too, is inevitably changed.
One scene is indelible: When deeply spiritual Jeremiah quits his job at a supermarket after his boss orders him to discard "expired" produce rather than give it to a needy woman for her hungry family.
Inspired by real events, it's been fictionalized by screenwriter Margaret Nagle (HBO's "Boardwalk Empire") and directed by French Canadian Philippe Falardeau ("Monsieur Lazar"), who felt it was imperative to cast from within the displaced Sudanese community in the U.S. and U.K. Indeed, these young actors deliver a unique authenticity to their touching, transformative struggle.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Good Lie" is a sensitive, sincere 6, an inspiring, redemptive tale of courage and compassion.