Oranges and Sunshine (15)

Film

Drama

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Mar 29 2011

‘Oranges and Sunshine’ is a sobering, eye-opening film that looks back from the viewpoint of the late 1980s at the forced migration of children in care from Britain to Australia in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s – a bitter journey sugared by the promises of this film’s title. Shockingly, the parents of many kids thought their offspring had been adopted, while the kids were sometimes shipped to abusive institutions and told they were orphans. The Australian and British governments brought this shameful episode in their histories to something of a close in 2009 and 2010 when first Kevin Rudd and then Gordon Brown offered official apologies to the child migrants.

Case closed, you might say, but director Jim Loach – son of Ken – and writer Rona Munro (who wrote Loach Sr’s ‘Ladybird, Ladybird’) are not so interested in high-level political, bureacratic shenanigans. They are concerned with exploring the experiences of these migrants and how their pasts continue to overshadow their lives. They give their story a stirring immediacy by making the ’80s their now, resisting flashbacks and sticking closely to the experience of Margaret Humphreys (Emily Watson), a social worker in Nottingham who in 1986 began digging around in two hemispheres to help migrants discover what happened to them and force both countries to admit their errors and release any information requested.

Munro’s careful script introduces Humphreys as a social worker with a firm and correct touch: a hard worker rather than a hero. She is initially officious when a woman approaches her claiming to have been transported from the Midlands to Australia and asking for help with research. Humphreys relents, and it’s the beginning of a journey which introduces her to hundreds of affected people on both sides of the world.

Two former migrants are given special attention: Jack (Hugo Weaving), a nervous character who is barely able to hang on to normal life, and Len (David Wenham), a much more aggressive presence for whom living in Australia seems, materially at least, to have done him good. Humphreys finds answers for both to questions about their past, and she develops an intriguing friendship with Len, which has complex undertones and leads her to Bindoon, a home in the Outback run by the Christian Brothers and the source of many dreadful stories told to Humphreys by migrants.

The danger of ‘Oranges and Sunshine’, which takes Humphreys’s book, ‘Empty Cradles’, as inspiration, is that by honouring the extraordinary feats of Humphreys – a wife and mother of two – this would become a tale of a woman against the machine, even drowning out the stories of the migrants. Loach doesn’t do that. He makes wise decisions. He doesn’t focus too much on Humphreys’s family life. He avoids both easy emotional showdowns and cascades of horror stories. And he has an eye for a contradictory character who can direct us to the truth by the back route.

Like his father, Loach has made a film uncluttered by an obvious director’s stamp, peopled by sympathetic characters and driven by a desire to say something about the world without losing sight of human experience. In casting Watson, he’s also secured a performance that boldly lacks vanity while exuding a strength that leads you confidently through difficult, troubling terrain.
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Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Apr 1, 2011

Duration:

105 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Jim Loach

Screenwriter:

Rona Munro

Cast:

Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, Emily Watson

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|14
1 person listening
jeanette myles

so glad to be DISTURBED by this very sensitive and beautiful but very painful film. yet disturbes me further that we are never 'shocked' enough to be changed individually, to ask the bigger questions,. WHY? and how can we change our sick society?. 'just another story of unspeakable abuse of the innocents'?.. I visualized myself as one of those children, in hell, it must have seemed and cannot comprehend how any sane adult was not moved to protect and help them! yet again, we witness abuse done under the umbrella of 'the church' the biggest abuse. I am comforted to know beyond all doubt God wept and still weeps for every broken little life, and He WILL deal with the abusers just as he will sweep up every broken heart into his heaven, reunite the lost and they will spend eternity healed and restored. Don't judge on 'religion' judge on Jesus, who called the religious of the day, 'a brood of vipers and whitewashed tombs'.. and they crucified Him to try to shut Him up. Take heart, ask Him into your heart and make your own mind up. 'No pit is deep enough that God's love is not deeper still' Corrie Tenboom.

jeanette myles

so glad to be DISTURBED by this very sensitive and beautiful but very painful film. yet disturbes me further that we are never 'shocked' enough to be changed individually, to ask the bigger questions,. WHY? and how can we change our sick society?. 'just another story of unspeakable abuse of the innocents'?.. I visualized myself as one of those children, in hell, it must have seemed and cannot comprehend how any sane adult was not moved to protect and help them! yet again, we witness abuse done under the umbrella of 'the church' the biggest abuse. I am comforted to know beyond all doubt God wept and still weeps for every broken little life, and He WILL deal with the abusers just as he will sweep up every broken heart into his heaven, reunite the lost and they will spend eternity healed and restored. Don't judge on 'religion' judge on Jesus, who called the religious of the day, 'a brood of vipers and whitewashed tombs'.. and they crucified Him to try to shut Him up. Take heart, ask Him into your heart and make your own mind up. 'No pit is deep enough that God's love is not deeper still' Corrie Tenboom.

Gavin

Definitely the best film I have seen for a year or so. Although I have not seen the Kings Speech

Gavin

Definitely the best film I have seen for a year or so. Although I have not seen the Kings Speech

Sue

This is one of the most moving films I have seen for a long time. Emily Watson is convincing in the part and it is a story that needed to be told. Thanks Jim Loach for telling it.

john McConnell

I have yet to see the film although I have read the book empty cradles what it is based on, I found that too much of the story surrounds the plight of the migrant trust and the hardships encountered trying to set it all up, very little is dedicated to the victims, so once again I think this piece of shameful "Britains History" will sink into obscurity, personally i dont think iot sends out a clear enough message for the public to "get it"...

Anthony Chambers

I am a former Brit child migrant. However I was a very lucky one adopted into a kind NZ family. But I was still shattered from my birth home at an early age. The film is good as it apens the door of our deported plight to a wider viewing world. I have a 20 minute film telling my own story of how I was sent & first returned as a young man. I can be contacted on: tonylifebuoy.saga@gmail.com. to view my documentary on line.

ALFREDO

MOVIES ON A MORAL MISSION SUCH "ORANGES AND SUNSHINE", THAT TELLS A TRUE SORDID STORY, ARE ALWAYS COMPELLING. EMILY WATSON IS TERRIFIC IN HER ROLE AS A SOCIAL WORKER, BUT ALL THE OTHERS, HUGO WEANING FOR INSTANCE, ARE VERY GOOD TOO. A HIGHLY RECOMMENDABLE FILM

jimmy

Aesthetically looks like and is structured like a film made for TV. It lacks a subtle approach to the complex issues involved. Instead of allowing the stories and the issues unfold unbiasedly and gradually, it attempts to tell us exactly what to think and feel.

duygu

It's a quite good film .Acting is brillant and the story is based on true story and so touching. I def reccomend ..

Mike

Harrowing tale of very young children shipped off to Oz with the promise of a better life. That ‘life’ often proved to be one of hard labour from the outset, interspersed with rape, and regular beatings. Though I’m pleased I’ve seen this film, it’s not what you’d call enjoyable in any way. I also found the film fairly inconclusive, at times slow, and very much told in the ‘Erin Brokovitch’ style. Well acted by Emily Watson and other members of the cast. Three stars.

ARCHGATE

Far too sober for it's own good. However, Watson is utterly brilliant. I suspect the fear of litigation has prevented this from being the film it could have been.