Fr Peter Malone MSC
The eRecord has three copies of The Good Lie to give away courtesy of Heritage Films. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, phone number and address. Winners will be notified by phone on Friday, August 7. All entrants must be over 18.
The Good Lie did not receive much cinema exhibition, but became available on DVD.
It is the kind of film that could be recommended to serious audiences, especially those with a concern for justice, and those who are interested in the turmoil in African countries, especially sub-Sahara countries like Sudan.
The meaning of the title? At some stage, some of the characters feel the need to tell some untruths in order to achieve a greater good.
While Reese Witherspoon gets prominent billing, she does not appear in the early part of the film, so is on posters for marketing purposes, as well as for her interest in being in this film and promoting it.
In fact, the first half of the film takes place in the South of Sudan, in the underprivileged area which became in recent years the new country of South Sudan. In the 1980s, there were many raids on villages by militant groups, nicknamed “the devils on horseback”.
A great number of people were killed and many fled.
Perhaps the story of the “lost boys” is known to some audiences, the group of boys who were urged to leave their villages, leaving behind their families and loved ones, and trekking thousands of kilometres from Sudan to Kenya.
When they arrived in that country, they were put into refugee camps, remaining there for several years, many of them growing up into adulthood in the camps.
The drama early in the film is that of the attacks of the militants on horseback, the cruelty and viciousness, the killings, and the long walk by the children, not all surviving, but helping one another to move further away from their dangerous country.
The second part of the film shows us some of the boys, now adults, and the possibilities of their being transferred to other countries – not possible for everyone, some spending many more years interned in the camps. But, many were fortunate enough to be able to go to the United States or countries like Australia, refuges for political refugees.
While the boys learn to speak English in Kenya, they were not educated in the ways of the world, let alone the ways of an affluent first world nation like the United States.
We follow a group of them as they are transferred to Kansas City, Missouri, with bureaucrats bungling the transfer and separating one of the men from his sister who is sent on to Boston.
Reese Witherspoon plays one of the contacts, herself not particularly well prepared to understand the young men from Africa, but making efforts to get them accommodation and to get jobs.
The younger men themselves have varied experiences in their work, some of them being pressed into joining groups, something the equivalent of gangs. Others get steady jobs.
One enterprising young man devotes himself to study, improving himself with the hope of training to be a doctor.
The Good Lie could be something of an eye-opening film for those who have not had contact with refugees, who are not aware of how important cultural differences are, or the strain of the newcomers in their learning of a new language, getting used to manners, different food, expectations in the workplace.
To that extent, the film is interesting, entertaining in its way – and a good way of enabling its audiences to have their horizons widened.
The film was directed by Canadian director, Philippe Falardeau, who treated something of the same themes in a French-Canadian setting, with a teacher who came from northern Africa, Monsieur Lazar, which is also a very fine film.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.