The Good Lie is a 2014 drama about "Sudanese refugees given the chance to resettle in America arrive in Kansas City, Missouri. where their encounter with an employment agency counselor forever changes all of their lives." -IMDb
Let me begin by saying that I don't know much about African culture (this will come in handy later, I promise). Also, I'm more of a horror movie girl. Take from that what you must. In other words, I don't willingly choose films for the "feels." The Good Lie, however, is one drama I can get into (ahem) bed with.
WARNING - THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW, SO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
The film opens on a family in their village in Sudan. They are relatively enjoying life until rebel soldiers attack and kill their parents. They are forced to flee to the only place they know is as close to safe as possible: Kenya. It's a life-threatening trip and along they way they lose three brothers, and meet two new ones.
Once they finally reach Kenya, they are given food, clothes and medical attention. And, after patiently waiting thirteen years, they are given the chance to settle in America. At the airport, however, they are separated from their sister, Abital. She goes to Boston, while the three brothers go to Kansas City.
Once in America, the culture shock is immense. Carrie (Witherspoon) is an employment agency counselor who isn't quite ready to take on the responsibility. But after vouching for the men, they all find jobs and settle in rather quickly.
Carrie soon takes a liking to the men when she learns more about them and is charmed by their humble politeness. When she learns their sister had been sent to Boston, she does everything in her power to bring hem back together. Eventually, she makes their first Christmas in America a very memorable one.
And when Abital receives a letter from the eldest brother (Theo) who had been captured by soldiers on their journey thirteen years before, Mamere (the second eldest) takes it upon himself to rescue him. But getting papers for a Sudanese refugee post 9/11 proves to be a problem. Mamere is unable to get backing from any embassy, so he makes a decision. He doctors his own papers to allow Theo to go to America in his place, deciding belongs in Kenya helping the sick. His efforts are what he calls a "good lie".
Now remember when I said I didn't know much about African culture? Well, Carrie seems to know much less. She doesn't understand why the men don't have luggage or why they don't know what to do when she drops them off at their shared housing complex. Among this, there are other small things such as a farmer giggling when Paul asks about lions in the fields or a potential employer becoming condescending when Jeremiah explains his parents' fate. I felt these instances were a bit hammed up. People are far more understanding than some I saw in the film, especially those so willing to help in the first place.
My face when nobody knew anything about Africa.
That being said, most of the film is centered around the family reuniting and the powerful messages of togetherness, kindness and support imbedded within. Oddly enough, I found the most powerful segments to be those about the men acclimating to America. They were extremely generous, kind, appreciative and humble to everyone around them. Jeremiah even offers half of his orange to a stranger on the train. Of course she stares blankly before shaking her head and smiling.
To me, the film showed America as a fast moving, no-nonsense kind of place. People are prideful and somewhat selfish. Let's face it. There are some things we take for granted. The men had a work ethic that was so unrivaled I was stunned. I come from an area in California that is rife with immigrants that, while hard-working, don't seem to appreciate the chance they've been given nor the culture that allowed them said opportunity.
In short, the film made me hyper-aware of both cultures. I think we could all learn a thing or two from each other. And if you're not normally a drama-watcher, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. You won't be disappointed that you learned (or felt) something. Come on...don't be lazy!