Let me preface this review by saying this is not my cup of tea type movie. I never understand the brutality that one religion can enforce on others all in the name of their god or whatever it is. It saddens me and sickens me what humans will do to each other just because of a certain belief so needless to say I knew going into this screening that it was going to be hard. I will say had this remained a more documentary style movie, it would have probably been even more heartbreaking, but a much better done movie.
The film tells the story of children who are orphaned by the brutal Civil war in Sudan that began in 1983. They travel hundreds of miles on foot in search of safety and what goes on during this trek will break your heart and as always during movies like this, it makes me think about how good we really do have it and complaining about the silly things in life, are just that..silly. Two brothers, “Mamere” (Arnold Oceng) and “Theo” (Femi Oguns) are sons of the Chief in their village in Southern Sudan. When an attack by the Northern militia destroys their home and kills their parents, as is custom, the eldest son Theo is forced to assume the role of Chief he tries to lead a small group of the young survivors, including his sister “Abital” (Kuoth Wiel) away from all the killing and fighting. Yes, in these places they kill children without a thought or care to it. Theo tries to do the best he can protecting them and hiding from the soldiers, but the terrain of the desert is just too much and has other dangers in store for them. As the battered group makes the trek to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, they meet other fleeing children, “Jeremiah” (Ger Duany), and “Paul” (Emmanual Jal).
Thirteen years later, the now young adults names are finally on the ‘list’ and they are given the opportunity to leave the camp and resettle in America. Upon arriving in Kansas, they are met by “Carrie Davis” (Reese Witherspoon), who is an employment agency counselor who has been enlisted to help find them jobs—no easy task, when things like straws, light switches and telephones are brand new to them and watching them adapt brings along a few lighter touches in the film. Although Carrie seems to have kept herself from any emotional entanglements in her life, these refugees, who desperately require help navigating the most basic aspects of what we take for granted every day, and rebuilding their shattered lives, need just that. Somehow they endear themselves to her, she puts herself out on a limb and enlisting the help of her boss, “Jack” (Corey Stoll) steps in to get them all reunited with a few Hollywood made twists.
While I get that they need some Hollywood names in this film as its a Ron Howard/Brian Grazer movie and to get it green-lighted etc..For me, it lost some of the realness of the story in doing so, though it still sends a message. I would have liked to have kept it more real-life as some of the actors are actual Sudanese refugees. Arnold Oceng, newcomer Kuoth Wiel. Ger Duany and rapper Emmanuel Jal, who were both former child soldiers and lost boys,and Femi Oguns. Rounding out the cast are with a few comedic moments is Sarah Baker as volunteer “Pamela Lowi” Mike Pniewski as Mamere’s boss, and children of real-life Sudanese refugees Peterdeng Mongok, Okwar Jale, Thon Kueth, Beng Ajuet and Kejo Jale as the younger lost boys who’s performances I enjoyed so much and made the stark reality of the movie come to life.
Does the film take a tough story and turn in into mainstreem movie, yes it does. And while the film itself is only so-so, it does serve a purpose with it’s message along with some definite tugs at your heart. Together, the Lost Boys and these unlikely strangers find humor in the clash of cultures, and heartbreak as well as hope in the challenges of life in America.
Grade: C- (below average)
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