ORANGES AND SUNSHINE * * * Cert 15, 105 mins With veteran Ken Loach’s latest film Route Irish moving to the MAC today, it’s perhaps appropriate that one of his box office rivals over at Cineworld Broad Street this week should be the debut film from his TV director son, Jim.
Based on her book, Empty Cradles, this 1980s-set story shows how Nottingham social worker Margaret Humphreys became an international whistleblower, campaigner and saviour after she literally stumbled across the post-war practice of dumping kids abroad.
She helped more than 7,000 Australians to discover their true identities, reunited many families and even won official state apologies and financial support.
Now 44, Emily Watson’s career has never really taken off like you might have thought after her Oscar nominations for Hilary and Jackie (1999) and Breaking the Waves (1997), but she does this type of seriousness really well.
As you’d expect from a man named Loach, Jim refuses to dress up the facts with melodrama and even keeps his landscape shots grounded in the reality of the emotionally unfulfilled.
While Oranges and Sunshine plods along at times as a drama, anyone adopted or with similar feelings of loneliness to the maternally bereft here will find the facts tangible enough reason to well up, with a handkerchief likely to be more essential than popcorn.