Anyone who saw the documentary by Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk called “Lost Boys of Sudan” may feel a sense of déjà vu watching Christopher Quinn’s “God Grew Tired of Us,” which—like the earlier film—records the efforts of a group of refugees from the war-torn African region who are brought to the United States from a Kenyan camp by a relief agency and struggle to establish a life for themselves in a very unfamiliar environment.
But if the picture’s basic narrative thrust is familiar, it has a number of distinguishing characteristics. One is that it’s narrated, clearly and without ostentation, by Nicole Kidman. And another is that it introduces us to a trio of young men who personalize the plight of the thousands of young Dinka men displaced by natural disaster and human violence: John Bul Dau, Daniel Abol Pach and Panther Bior. Quinn follows the latter two as they settle in Pittsburgh, and Bul as he goes to Syracuse, New York. The result offers a combination of humor and uplift that’s genuinely heartwarming, especially when it deals with John’s discovery that some members of his family are still alive and captures their reunion. And its emphasis on the way in which the refugees, both those covered here and others, band together to support one another and maintain their traditions in difficult circumstances is not only instructive but might lead viewers to become involved in the effort to assist them.
So “God Grew Tired of Us” may tell a story that you’ve seen before in another form: as was the case with “Lost Boys,” it can be understood as the latest installment of the immigrant experience in America. But it’s satisfying enough to demonstrate that some stories deserve to be told more than once.