If a director cannot aspire to create something both idealistic and substantive in his debut feature then, surely, he can never will. And, in this light, first time film-maker Jim Loach has chosen to tackle the issue of “Home Children,” and the investigation of Margaret Humphries into the compulsory deportation of British children to the colonies in the film Oranges and Sunshine.
Although new to the big-screen, Jim Loach will be a familiar name in the UK having worked as director- among other roles- on a plethora of the highest rated TV programmes in the country including Coronation Street, Footballers Wives and Holby City. So, plainly, he is not as green as many first time film makers, however, a step up in medium demands a similar elevation of the material and Loach has teamed up with veteran writer Rona Munro (Ladybird, Ladybird) to tackle a story of a shocking practise that endured up until the 1960s. The trailer can be found here:
The films protagonist, Margaret Humphries (played by Emily Watson), was a social worker in Nottingham in the 1980s who, following a query from a lady who lost her daughter when she was put up for adoption, discovered hundreds of children had been deported to Australia. Humphries work highlighted the callous method of informing children that their real parents were dead before deporting them to cover labour shortages that existed in the colonies. Many of the children were promised the Sunshine and Oranges of the title, only to be plunged into lives of abuse and borderline slavery, and Humphries work drew apologies from the UK and Australian governments while earning her a CBE.
It is understandable that Jim Loach may have been reluctant to make his debut on the big-screen given the regard in which his more illustrious father, Ken, is held. Though, if the trailer and real life source is anything to go by, he retains the family propensity toward issues of family and social justice.
The film is released in the UK on April 1, 2011. Hugo Weaving supports.