A sad story is told

Film review:

ORANGES & SUNSHINE

Oranges & Sunshine is a fine film.

A UK/Australia co-production directed by Jim Loach and starring Emily Watson, David Wenham and Hugo Weaving.

Telling the true story of Nottingham social worker Margaret Humphreys who, in the late 80’s uncovered a scandalous event in the history of relations between Britain & Australia – the forced migration of thousands of children from the UK. Deported children were promised oranges and sunshine but they got hard labour and life in institutions, some suffering physical & sexual abuse in the hands of their “carers”.

Director Jim Loach working from a fine screenplay by Rona Munro elicits superb performances from his stellar cast – his minute attention to detail in the performances from the secondary supporting cast – mostly portraying the abused children, now adults, some severely damaged from the experiences they endured, is one of the great pleasures of the film.

Emily Watson as Margaret is a commanding presence, but it is David Wenham as a curious case – Len, a self made man, victim of horrible abuse by the Christian Brothers of Bindoon, who really stood out for me. I am usually very aware of his nuanced-ticky performances but in this film he is understated and heartbreaking.

The film is very simple in its telling, no over the top dramatics, no showy cinematography or period production design ( set a good quarter of a century ago), perhaps it does lack some cinematic oomph and could have been well served as a TV movie, but that is a minor quibble as the scandalous story needs to be told and hopefully will find itself an audience to appreciate its worth. It is a very sad film and most will be touched by the travesty that occurred in the not so distant past.

Oranges & Sunshine opens in Australia next Thursday – June 9.

Emily Watson & David Wenham

 

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