Film Review: The Good Lie

Lately, I’ve been on a “historical drama” kick.  In my search of films that push me to critically think about humanitarian issues and morality, I came across The Good Lie.  My mom first recommended this film to me years ago but I had forgotten about it until I recently stumbled across it on iTunes.  Although the film is based on a true story, since the Sudanese War did happen and the “Lost Boys of Sudan” were a reality, the characters’ story are loosely based on truth.  But don’t let this deter you from watching the film–it gives the audience an accurate depiction of what happens to refugees when they leave their homeland and re-integrate into another country.  And it gives a realistic portrayal of the darkness of war and conflict in Northern Africa.

Hit play and you’re thrown into the world of 1987 Sudan, where a once peaceful existence in Northern Africa has transformed into pure chaos.  No more can children play in the fields, tend to their livestock and sleep knowing tomorrow will come.  Guerrilla forces appear in raging force all over Sudan, first in the south and then migrating north towards the mountains and the Ethiopian borders.  Kenya seems to be the only safe haven.  But Kenya’s borders are thousands of miles away.  So you walk.

Mamere, Paul, Jeremiah and Abital, the film’s main protagonists, are to make this exact journey from their village, which has just been pillaged by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), to the Kakuma Refugee Camp.  Their parents?  Murdered.  Their friends and siblings?  Murdered.  And now they must run for their lives to escape murder.  Though the journey is torturous and the foursome lose family and friends along the way, both to death and capture as child soldiers by the SPLA, they make it.

But their journey does not end here.  After many years at Kakuma, waiting and wondering what their future will hold, the US Immigration Services approve their request for asylum in the United States and off the four go.  Unfortunately, their new American lives do not prove to be easy.  Faced with the temptation of drugs, job loss, culture shock and physical separation, their troubles have just begun.

Reese Witherspoon, playing an employment counselor with a number of her own issues, attempts to guide these individuals in seeking a new life in the “New World”.  However, the newly branded “fivesome” experience a multitude of problems, some solvable and some not.  As the film comes to a close, a bittersweet ending reminds the audience that although this two hour film is over, the struggles of refugees and consequences of war never end.

The film not only tore at my heartstrings (I cried several times) but also gave me an awareness of the absolute horrors of war and refugee relocation.  After doing quite a bit of research post-film, I found that the Kakuma Refugee Camp still exists and provides for thousands of refugees from not only Sudan but also Ethiopia, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

I had heard whispers of the current conflict in the DRC but it was not until I Googled it that I realized the severity of the issue.  Every day, nearly 5,500 people flee their homes for refuge.  It’s even been dubbed “worse than Syria” (although every civil is horrible and this doesn’t dismiss the Syrian Civil War).  The conflict stems from a multitude of issues, the biggest being religious conflict and government resistance.  Unfortunately, nobody’s talking about it.  And it needs to be talked about.  So please, do some research and learn more about this conflict and how you can help.  And watch The Good Lie!

To learn more about the current conflict in the DRC, check out these links below:

Council on Foreign Relations: Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

BBC Q&A: DR Congo Conflict 

xoxo Kasia

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