The Good Lie is a 2014 American-Indian drama film written by Margaret Nagle, and directed by Philippe Falardeau. Filmed in Atlanta, Georgia and South Africa, the film stars Reese Witherspoon, Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, Corey Stoll, and Sarah Baker. It was screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival before being released on October 3, 2014. Another major screening was held by the Greenwich International Film Festival on October 22, 2014, for the benefit of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
During the Second Sudanese Civil War, siblings Mamere, Paul, Jeremiah, Theo, Daniel and Abital escape after their families and village are massacred. After numerous days of walking in the wilderness, they join a group of refugees but leave after they are caught by enemy soldiers and many people are killed. After sleeping in the grassland, Mamere wakes up and spots two enemy soldiers approaching them. Theo hides the rest of the siblings in the grass and lies to the soldiers that he is alone. He is taken in custody with the soldiers. The group eventually arrives at a Sudanese refugee camp in Nairobi, Kenya, where Daniel succumbs to disease and dies. Thirteen years later, among the thousands in the camp, the siblings win for relocation to the United States.
At arrival in New York City, Abital is unexpectedly told that she is to leave to Boston, where a family awaits. As their sister tearfully leaves, Jeremiah, Mamere and Paul board the flight to Kansas City, where they meet Carrie Davis, a brash employment counselor, who helps them find jobs, and Pamela, who provides them their house and support. Jeremiah works at a grocery store and teaches Sunday school at a local church, but later quits the job because he was caught giving old food to a homeless person rather than throwing it away. Paul works at a factory and makes friends with his co-workers, where he is exposed to drugs. Mamere takes two jobs as a store clerk and a security guard to pay for schooling, as he aspires to become a medical doctor. Mamere eventually convinces Carrie to help them bring back Abital; on Christmas Eve, Carrie arrives at their home with Abital and the Lost Boys of Sudan celebrate their birthday on January 1, as they had never known the date when they were born.
Abital receives an anonymous letter stating that someone entered the refugee camp in Kenya searching for the group. Thinking it is Theo, Mamere travels to Nairobi and searches the refugee camp after they tell him that Theo is not registered. After meeting James, an old friend, he is reunited with Theo the next day. Mamere tries to get immigration papers to multiple embassies and fails, but tells Theo that the "task" was done. At the airport, Mamere reveals to Theo that he could not get him a passport and instead gives Theo his own passport. After a tearful farewell, Theo leaves and is embraced by his family upon arrival in the United States; Mamere remains in Kenya and works at the camp hospital.
- Reese Witherspoon as Carrie Davis
- Ger Duany as Jeremiah - Sudanese
- Arnold Oceng as Mamere - Sudanese
- Emmanuel Jal as Paul - Sudanese
- Kuoth Wiel as Abital - Sudanese
- Femi Oguns as Theo - Nigerian
- Corey Stoll as Jack
- Sarah Baker as Pamela
Duany, Wiel and Jal survived Sudan's civil war.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 67 reviews and an average rating of 6.8/10. The consensus reads, "The Good Lie sacrifices real-life nuance in order to turn its true story into a Hollywood production, but the results still add up to a compelling, well-acted, and deeply moving drama." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 65 out of 100 based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews" from critics.