Film audiences may flock to The Good Lie, a compelling drama because Reese Witherspoon is one of the stars, but they will fall in love with Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, rapper Emmanuel Jal, and Kuoth Wiel; the story, about the lost boys and girls of Sudan during the terrible reign of war lords, The Good Lie is about their experience. As children their characters had to flee their homeland, walking thousands of miles to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. The dangerous African terrain is gorgeously shot under Philippe Falardeau's fine direction. After 13 years, the orphans come to the United States, among the last to make that journey before 9/11 closed down those doors and possibilities for emigration. Once here, the boys need to find jobs, and learn our ways one electric light switch at a time, and that's where Reese Witherspoon comes in to help with the transition. The Good Lie, a seeming oxymoron, takes its title from a dilemma solved by Huck Finn in saving Jim in Mark Twain's classic, as Mamere (Oceng) learns from a literature class to adapt to American culture. The Good Lie speaks to a brave, resonant heroic act that reveals his character's essential decency.
At this week's premiere of The Good Lie at the Time Warner Center, co-sponsored by Unicef, guests, some who had been "lost" cried tears remembering, while others like Nile Rodgers whose guitar work is featured on Emmanuel Jal's album, "My Power," Tina Brown and Sir Harry Evans, Richard LaGravenese. Amanda Foreman, Chuck Scarborough, Felicia Taylor, Magee Hickey, Emmanuel Jal's among them, celebrated this movie's humor, and excellent performances by actors close to this struggle. After the screening, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power spoke about the continued conflict, with a civil war raging in South Sudan, and leaders utilizing similar murderous tactics, conscripting children into the military. Lauding President Obama's action to allow 70,000 to find refuge in this country, she emphasized: "This is not just the past."
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