Loach, son of renowned director Ken, makes a fine debut with this often harrowing and consistently thought-provoking drama about the shipment in the 1950s of British children to Australia.
The children are told by the authorities that their parents were dead and thus more easily manipulated into accepting their fate.
The excellent Watson plays a Nottingham social worker, Margaret, circa 1980s, who is approached by an Australian woman – one of the child victims – seeking her mother.
For Margaret it is such a fantastic tale that she sets out to uncover the truth, with the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia unhappy at what might be disclosed.
And, with others coming forward (two played by Weaving and Wenham), there is much to be unhappy about: cruelty on a farm in the outback run by the Christian Brothers and physical and sexual abuse dished out regularly.
Loach, like his socially conscious father, tackles the subject with honesty and clarity and sends his directing career off on a high note.