By CORY WOODROOF

With homegrown star Reese Witherspoon so prominently placed on the poster, you’d think The Good Lie would be a front-and-center show for the Oscar winner.

With homegrown star Reese Witherspoon so prominently placed on the poster, you’d think The Good Lie would be a front-and-center show for the Oscar winner.

But, Witherspoon doesn’t hit the screen until around the film’s second act — and this, by no means, is a Reese Witherspoon vehicle.

Instead, the actress plays a nice supporting character in a genuinely moving tale about a family of Sudanese refugees who try to forge a new path in America in the early aughts.

Directed by Philippe Falardeau (the Oscar-nominated “Monsieur Lazhar”) and produced in part by Imagine Entertainment brain trust Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, “The Good Lie” deals with an incredibly tragic topic – the Second Civil War in Sudan that rocked a population of innocent people for nearly 20 years – and turns it into a tale of inspiration that refuses to play into the tropes that can plague movies of this genre.

Here, Mamere (Arnold Oceng), Jeremiah (Ger Duany), Paul (Emmanuel Jal) and Abital (Kuoth Wiel), Sudanese citizens who live in a refugee camp, find their name on a list of individuals accepted for relocation in the United States. Once the quartet arrive in America, Abital is whisked away from the group to Boston due to residential issues, and the three men head to Kansas City to start their new lives and try and find a way to reunite with their sister.

Witherspoon plays Carrie, a rough-and-tumble employment agency counselor who tries to find work for the new U.S. residents. Easily the biggest name in the film, Witherspoon gets plenty of screen time in the role, but again, this isn’t her character’s story.

For a majority of the runtime, the film wisely sticks to the impactful tale of Mamere, Jeremiah and Paul and their trials of making a new life for themselves. Mamere, a hopeful doctor, carries the burden of believing he’s responsible for his brother Theo’s kidnapping as children. Jeremiah tries to balance his strong faith with the no-nonsense logic of the business world. Paul misses his sister while struggling to adapt to his new surroundings.

There’s some truly potent subject matter here, and “The Good Lie” does its best to handle it with care while still trying to give off a positive vibe. However, the film, especially in the first act, doesn’t sugar-coat what the lead characters have been through.

In its strongest thematic stride, the child versions of our protagonists must walk hundreds of miles across the unforgiving wild to try to find safety. This sequence could have stood alone as a well-made short film. While the rest of the film cannot top the emotional sucker-punch of this opening act, the film doesn’t hit too many false notes.

The inclusion of Carrie’s subplot – a self-centric Missourian who becomes an influential part in helping the main characters find success in the States – could have been far worse than what it was. Witherspoon doesn’t try to make her character any flashier than what the script demands, and it’s this restraint that keeps this film firmly shining the spotlight on the leads. Corey Stoll also fills in nicely with his role as Jack, the caring owner of the employment agency.

The film’s main cast, while largely unknown, provide the film’s best acting, and Arnold Oceng deserves the strongest notices. Mamere is the film’s true lead role, and Oceng delivers as confident a performance as you’re going to see this year.

It’s Oceng’s earnest appeal that should land him more opportunities in future movies. Ger Duany is nicely quiet and calming in his performance as Jeremiah, and Emmanuel Jal makes Paul a nicely layered character that has his own unique baggage to carry.

For an inspirational film, “The Good Lie” goes an appropriate distance into covering the genocide. The film doesn’t try to skirt around the sheer terror of what happened, but there’s not too much time spent in the more devastating aspects of the holocaust. Unlike completely immersive films like “Blood Diamond” or “Hotel Rwanda,” “The Good Lie” only sheds part of a light onto the horror of genocide. But, the impact is still felt.

Putting an A-list talent like Witherspoon so blatantly on the poster was, no doubt, a marketing method to put people in seats. Thankfully, the film doesn’t embody this misleading approach. This is not the “Reese Witherspoon Saves the Refugees Movie.” If the film had taken such a direction, it would have been a massive disservice to the subject material.

Instead, “The Good Lie” weaves a powerful tale of family and survival in the midst of trial. It’s an impactful film that’s well-worth your time.