TIFF 2014: The Good Lie Review

The Good Lie

Special Presentations

Nothing at all like its extemely misleading marketing campaign, the refugee and immigration drama The Good Lie proves that Canadian filmmaker Philippe Falardeau (the Oscar nominated Monsieur Lazhar) can make the leap to Hollywood without sacrificing his voice or artistic integrity.

Following the Sudanese civil war that began in the 1980s, thousands of orphaned young men and women (dubbed Lost Boys) have been living in refugee camps throughout Africa. The film follows a band of brothers (all played by either former refugees or the children of them) as they eventually make their way to Kansas City and attempt to adjust to their new lives. Helped along by a pair of employment workers (Reese Witherspoon and Corey Stall), the trio of friends who have survived everything possible are forced to not only readjust to a society where being dishonest is the order of the day, but they’re also still plagued and haunted by their memories of home and those left behind.

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THE GOOD LIE

Despite the marketing focus on Witherspoon, she’s maybe in only 45 total minutes of a two hour film, not even showing up until well past the half hour mark. The first thirty minutes of the film are an unflinching and poignant look as the young men and their sister attempt to survive. When the film comes to America, there are never any cloying clichés or punchlines that don’t make sense outside the narrative, and the finale involves the eldest surviving brother heading back to Africa to bring back one of their own.

It’s smart, deftly written, nicely directed and the leads (Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, and Emmanuel Jal) all get their own three dimensional arcs to play out. It’s the antithesis of the kind of inspirational film Hollywood has been churning out for quite some time, and those duped into thinking they are getting an empty, feel-good picture, will be getting something much better than they probably expected. (Andrew Parker)

Screens

Friday, September 12th, 12:00pm, Princess of Wales

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Thanks to SPiN TORONTO for sponsoring our TIFF 2014 coverage.

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