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The Good Lie is a story about family living in Sudan in the midst of war, people ripped out of the family, torn from one another and a journey to make them whole. It is also a story about sacrificial love, reaching out past ourselves and faith. It is not an easy journey and their are no pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. There is, however, integrity, relationship, and hope. These will do for now.


After losing the adults of their village, some children leave to find a safe haven. There are few in that part of the world. Their travels are long, fraught with many dangers, toils, and snares and finally result in a stay at a refugee camp in Kenya. Three brothers and their sister are finally able to go to America and start again.

While this is not a documentary, it’s also not a typical Hollywood film. First, the actors portraying the main characters of the movie are from Sudan, two of whom were made into child soldiers. They have authentic background for those whom they portray. Second, while the trailer suggests otherwise, this isn’t primarily about their relationship with Reese Witherspoon’s character, Carrie Davis, or even about adjusting to American culture. It’s primarily about the “Lost Boys (and girls) of Sudan,” as it should be. It’s their story and the movie places them squarely in the middle of it. There are even movements where, if it were Hollywood (and certainly if it were Disney), someone would save the day from making a decision on only difficult options. So I would say to the folks who say that the film is water-down for Hollywood that they can, of course, watch a documentary – may I recommend The Lost Boys of Sudan. Moreover, wallowing in the misery and pain would not make the story any more authentic; we’re in the theater for a couple of hours watching a film. At most, we would be made uncomfortable in the horrific nature of the war. We have plenty from the film to sense that – drinking urine, soldiers mowing down children with machine guns and a cold shoulder for help. No, I think they played it right.

2014 Toronto International Film Festival Portraits - Day 5

The main characters, Mamere, Jeremiah, Paul and Abital, display a genuineness that is so starkly different from the jadedness of our culture that they are frequently not taken seriously. Their care for each other is refreshing as is the authentic faith they display. There is no health-and-wealth gospel nor is there fitting into a mega-church. There is a Bible carried for hundreds of miles, prayer in the midst of death at the refugee camp and clinging to hope in their God when all external reasons for hope are long gone. Uniting the family is one of their primary aims.

Now, of course, there are the comedic moments of adjusting to American culture and the presumption of that everyone knows the basics of modern culture. My favorite adjustment is the photograph of Abital stuck on the phone – a low-tech Skype. However, the focus is on remaining who they are and on being whole. Bringing everyone together.

What I Loved:

  • The relationships, even when difficult, between Theo, Mamere, Jeremiah, Paul and Abital, both young and old.
  • The genuineness of their faith.
  • The fact that so many Americans stepped up and opened their lives to those displaced.
  • Their integrity and lack of guile.
  • That it wasn’t particularly Hollywoody or Disney
  • The often beautiful landscape
  • The story
  • Using those who were lost to show how they were found by each other

What I Liked Less

  • The displacement in the first place and what they had to go through.

It’s a marvelous film and I cannot recommend it enough. The soundtrack is seriously cool as well.



If this were full-on Hollywood, no one would die on the road, Carrie would have been the hero and the focus rather than the family themselves and Carrie would have been on a plane and “saved the day” for Mamere to be back in America with Theo et. al. That Theo sacrifices his freedom for his brother and to serve in the hospital in the refugee camp is simply outstanding.