Anika Goes to the Movies: The Good Lie

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Quick rating: 4.5/5 stars -Everyone over the age of 11 (assuming that they are not particularly sensitive) should see this movie. It is good for you, and it tastes good, too. (And if you look around you can still catch it in the theater.)

I saw this movie expecting to cry. And I did, a little. But overall, the hardship and the heart ache that the characters lived through was presented with such real heart and without a bunch of over dramatization that it didn’t rip my guts out to watch it. And I came away with hope for humanity and a belief in our potential for resilience. Also I felt a bit like a schmuck for complaining about how hard it is to market novels, or carry huge groceries from Sam’s Club in a grocery cart to my car, or the price of my movie cup refill going up. Yeah, perspective on first world problems gets a good refresher as part of the ticket price for this one. Moreover, you don’t always get the opportunity to do real good for those suffering as part of the movie going experience.

If you go to the film’s website or straight to the fundraising page, you can contribute to the organizations that are making a difference in the lives of the “Lost Boy and Girls of South Sudan.” So go do something karmically awesome.

And now some spoilers.

Here there be SPOILERS.

I’M GOING TO TELL YOU THINGS THAT MIGHT SPOIL THE MOVIE FOR YOU IF YOU ARE THE KIND OF PERSON THAT GETS ANNOYED BY HEARING THE DETAILS BEFORE YOU SEE THE FILM.

Those shocked by the presence of spoilers hereafter should seek medical attention as they may have contracted ebola, and it is effecting their brain.(jokes)

Every story, be it a film, play, or book, has one immediate job: make you care about the characters. The Good Lie= character attachment victory from the beginning. They are kids watching their family’s cattle (’cause in other countries kids actually work with/for the benefit of their families), when a war over resources and religion robs them of their parents. The deaths are very real, and there are some hard, even frightening images in the film, but they are never overly gory. It is clearly the point of the movie to tell the story of these character’s lives, not to “accurately” depict the horrors of the war they lived through.

And even though wading through the realities of orphan life in sub-Saharan Africa is a large part of the movie, there are funny moments, too. When you get to the bit about the chicken, you will laugh. I’m chuckling now just thinking about it.

And even though Reese Witherspoon gets the most photo space on the poster, the movie isn’t really about her character, Carrie. Which is great, because her character is a slightly hostile, mildly bitter, alcoholic. She mellows and makes better choices as the movie goes on, so we forgive her. And she is very average-gal looking throughout too, which is how I tend to like her best (certain parts of Sweet Home Alabama, Just Like Heaven, Four Christmases, and Penelope come to mind). If the movie has a flaw it is that they don’t develop Carrie’s character as much as they could. And they gloss over Abital, who is the boys sister. I’m sure there is some feminist rant in there somewhere, but I have neither the inclination nor energy to go there. And the rest of the movie is too good to get cranky about such things.

The other thing I loved about this movie is that not all of the characters found some perfect niche. They don’t all adjust well, and there are obstacles beyond Africa. Abital, their sister, is separated from them thanks to policy+ bureaucracy + people in their new city suck. They go to Kansas City. She goes to Boston. It is a trauma they are not prepared to face. Jeremiah loses his job when he becomes morally conflicted over following the bosses orders. Paul falls in with the stoner crowd at the machinery plant were he gets a job. And it’s sad to see him trying to cope with both past and present hardships while surrounded by people who don’t understand what he has been through and don’t have his best interests at heart. He comes around in the end though, and brings the comic relief more often than not. And though Mamere finds himself on the path to going to medical school and becoming a doctor, in the end he sacrifices it all so his brother can come to the United States where he can get the medical attention he needs.

The story is not the tale of real individuals, but rather a mosaic of the various life experiences of those coming out of the war in Sudan. But it is amazing to see that the actors are themselves refugees or the children of refugees making a new life for themselves through acting and music here in America.

TANGENT: I would love to see Ger Duany, who plays Jeremiah, play Rezdin should The Accidental Apprentice ever go to Hollywood.

Until next time Anika Goes to the Movies: ? ? ?

Here’s your chance to vote!! I am going to the movies this weekend, what should I see? Box Trolls, The Best of Me, or The Book of Life? Tell me in the comments and I shall review the winner.

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