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SYNOPSIS: After surviving a vicious attack on their Sudanese village and harrowing trek to a U.N. refugee camp in Kenya as children, Mamere (Arnold Oceng) and his sister Abital (Kuoth Wiel) - now in their twenties - restart their lives in America. But immigration wrenches the small family apart; Carrie (Reese Witherspoon), a sassy, brash employment agent, reluctantly signs on to help them find jobs.

Review by Louise Keller:
I connected on many levels with this powerful story about escape from Africa, loss, survival and struggling against the odds to create a new life. While Reece Witherspoon may have top billing in this story the backdrop for which is the civil war in Sudan, the real stars are actors whose true-life experiences are as dramatic as the characters they play. Director Philippe Farladeau (Monsieur Lazar) takes the elements of Margaret Nagle's powerful screenplay and has fashioned them into an emotionally rich drama that depicts the bond of brothers and the humanity that forms its diamond clasp.

The 'Coming to America' of three young Sudanese men and a woman begins about 45 minutes into the film, but it is the all-important early sequences that allow us to understand the context that has brought them to a new life, after bullets destroy the only life they know. The unimaginable hardships endured by the small group of young children with bleeding feet as they walk over a thousand miles towards the rising sun, bonds them inextricably.

The integration of Mamere (Arnold Oceng), Jeremiah (Ger Duany) and Paul (Emanuel Jal) is nicely handled, from the moment they arrive at the Kenyan refugee camp and observe that 'some of these people have no colour' (on seeing a white man for the first time) to the amusement they share on arrival in America (after hearing the joke why the chicken crossed the road). Farladeau avoids simplifying issues, so nothing is trivialized and there's a real sense of the stakes as life, death and survival sway in the balance. Integration is not easy: the struggles bring texture and grit as the men try to adjust. Also difficult is the battle that Mamere (in Kansas) faces in trying to defeat the bureaucratic crossfire in a bid to be reunited with his sister Abital (Kuoth Wiel) who has been sent to Boston. And what of Theo (Ferni Oguns), the brother who made the ultimate sacrifice for him in Africa? Look out for the key scene in which reference to the good lie of the title is made. It forms the emotional heart of the film.

Witherspoon plays Carrie, the nonchalant employment agent who sets about to find employment for the three traumatised men who have little experience beyond dealing with cattle. Her transformation from disinterested to passionately engaged is somewhat contrived but reasonably convincing and I especially like Sarah Baker as the laid-back social worker - the expression on her face as she observes the chaotic state of Carrie's messy apartment (and life), is priceless.

I was moved to tears by the simplicity of many of the emotions expressed; the haunting themes about choices and debts resonate in many ways. Farladeau's film nails the essence of brotherhood, reinforced by the quoted African proverb 'If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together'.

Meanwhile, cinematographer Ronald Plante perfectly captures the world's most beautiful sunsets, expansive landscapes and distinctive savanna trees that depict the unique continent of Africa.

Published June 25, 2015

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(Can, US, 2014)

CAST: Reese Witherspoon, Arnold Oceng, Kuoth Wiel, Der Duany, Emmanuel Jai, Corey Stoll, Maria Howell, Sarah Baker

PRODUCER: Brian Grazer, Genevieve Hofmeyr, Ron Howard, Karen Kehela Sherwood, Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill, Molly Smith

DIRECTOR: Philippe Falardeau

SCRIPT: Margaret Nagle


EDITOR: Richard Morneau

MUSIC: Martin Leon


RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Not released (originally scheduled for November 20, 2014)



DVD DISTRIBUTOR: EOne Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: June 24, 2015

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