‘Oranges and Sunshine’ DVD Review

Director: Jim Loach

Starring: Emily Watson, David Wenham, Hugo Weaving

Plot: A British social worker, Margerat Humphreys is incredulous when a woman comes to her with a story about having been taken from her family and forcibly deported to Australia as a child, but some investigation reveals that she is one of thousands for whom this happened, and is not acknowledged by either countries government.

Review: Loach the junior takes his first steps into his own career choosing a provocative and heartfelt script with which to make his name. The events depicted in this movie did happen, making it a shocking story for those not already familiar with it (and given Australia’s tendency to gloss over most black marks in its recent history, that’s still a surprising amount). From the late 1900’s until the late 1970’s the British government forcibly deported over 130,000 children to Australia without the consent or even awareness of their parents. The children were told their parents had died and were forced to work in their new life, some suffering abuse of the hands of their gaurdians.

Being such a strong drama on its own merits the movie steers clear of the melodrama and allows simple, well framed events to tell the story and tug at the heartstrings. Weaving and Denham both excel in their roles as damaged orphans looking to reconnect with their long lost families and well deserve top billing for this movie. Emily Watson is a gifted performer yet on occasion her stoic appearance leads to feeling of disconnectedness from the viewer, making it difficult to feel involved with the emotional weight of the movie is on her.

In terms of film-making, this is well above bar for any film-maker, let alone a debut director. The soft light and pastel colour scheme sometimes seems at odds with the serious events on screen, but it gives the entire movie a warm feel that ultimately benefits the story. Being a true and ongoing story the narrative ends without any solid resolution, but as the events depicted will be new knowledge to some viewers it might be enough for some people.