June 9, 2011
Oranges And Sunshine (M) Director: Jim Loach (feature debut) Starring: Emily Watson and David Wenham (above), Richard Dillane, Hugo Weaving. Verdict: Left to rot in broad daylight. Star rating: * * *
ORANGES and Sunshine tells the bizarre true story of how thousands of young British lives were irrevocably ruined.
On Australian turf. With the systematic and secretive support of our government.
Apologies have since been made by politicians here and in the UK. Which is the right thing to do in the present day. But it hardly makes up for four decades’ worth of wrongs committed in the past.
The film centres on British social worker Margaret Humphreys (Emily Watson), who inadvertently stumbled on the scandal while piecing together a standard genealogy case in the mid-1980s.
With the support of husband Merv (Richard Dillane), also a social worker, Margaret discovers almost 150,000 poor British children placed in community care between 1947 and 1979 were relocated to Australia under false pretences.
Often to places controlled by people who could not have cared less for the welfare of their innocent young charges (many of whom had been told their parents were dead).
Based on a book penned by Humphreys, Oranges And Sunshine stumbles slightly as a film in that it often struggles to represent its concerns in a truly cinematic form.
If pressed, most would agree the film would have achieved just as high an impact had it been produced for television.
Nevertheless, with an actor as gifted as Emily Watson at the centre of proceedings – and solid support coming from such Australian stars as David Wenham and Hugo Weaving – justice is still bestowed on an highly unjust tale.