Synopsis: Oranges and Sunshine tells the story of Margaret Humphreys, a social worker from Nottingham, who uncovered one of the most significant social scandals in recent times: the forced migration of children from the United Kingdom. Almost singlehandedly, against overwhelming odds and with little regard for her own well-being, Margaret reunited thousands of families, brought authorities to account and worldwide attention to an extraordinary miscarriage of justice. She discovered a secret that the British government had kept hidden for years: one hundred and thirty thousand children in care had been sent abroad to commonwealth countries, mainly Australia. Children as young as four had been told that their parents were dead, and been sent to children’s homes on the other side of the world. Many were subjected to appalling abuse. They were promised oranges and sunshine, they got hard labour and life in institutions.
Review: What can I say? With the story of Oranges and Sunshine actually being a true one, the question that should be asked to you is; what would your reaction be after seeing a documentary about the atrocities committed by what should be a trusted system?
This film, well as I said above, might as well be a documentary, is sensational. The nature of the plot, the characters, the motivation; it all points to a shocking documentary feature rather than a well thought out work of fiction, based on truth. What assists to the feel of the picture is the acting. Now, I don’t like using the word acting when addressing such work, because yes in most instances it is acting, but in this instance it appears not to be. Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving and David Wenham specifically and separately tell the story in hugely meaningful and authentic ways. Their ‘acting’, in this case, is ‘being’. Watson, the driver, although assisted by her husband and employers, is alone in her vehicle, but when people start getting in, and a lot of people for that matter with a lot of places to go, she gives her soul in order to take them there, even if they don’t know where they’re going themselves. And giving her soul is exactly what Watson does. It is clear that she was very invested into her role, giving it all she had. Wenham is almost the comic relief at some points, but when you learn why, his character becomes all the more significant, especially to Watson’s. Hugo Weaving radiates a perfect performance. He seems to take the roll of an unrecognisable person with many difficult concerns, and rises to show even more untapped talent, not just pulling and tugging at your heart strings, but ripping and snapping them, and in one particular scene bringing this dry-eyed viewer to tears. The direction and cinematography is great during these scenes, fixating the lens in the right places, capturing all the emotion and raw expertise happening in front of it. Jim Loach’s direction feels very episodic, like the film could have been a television series quite easily, and that is no surprise when you learn that he comes from a large television background, dipping his hand into many successful dramatic series’. The Cinematographer, Denson Baker, blends well the obvious loneliness of the Australian outback, with the unexpected loneliness of suburban England, and throughout the film the two massively different landscapes start to merge together as one location, making you feel almost the same when watching both.
Lisa Gerard, the Golden Globe winning co-composer of Gladiator, delivers a simple, yet charming score, mainly using piano. She adds further emotion to the story, which was hard as there were almost no other forms of emotion left to explore as the film itself covered that, and succeeded calmly and brilliantly. If you are considering giving this a watch, you would be correct to do so. Oranges and Sunshine is a rich, shocking, and honest story, filled with an array of utterly amazing performances. And who knows, when you leave you may just have learnt something that the whole world should know, and never repeat.
SEE HOW IT RATED ON ROTTENTOMATOES.COM HERE