The Unloved Review

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The journey of shy 11 year-old Lucy from an abusive home into a creaking care system.

★★★★

Not just a gifted actress, Samantha Morton can direct a bit too, judging by her debut feature, which gets a well-deserved transfer from telly to big screen. Like This Is England, it’s set in the slab-grey estates of Nottingham and is loosely based on its director’s childhood, although there the similarities end because there’s zero nostalgia to lighten the journey of shy 11 year-old Lucy (Molly Windsor) from an abusive home into a creaking care system.

Hovering at her eye-level, the camera transports us through a disorientating world of social workers, glue-sniffing roommates and neglectful parents (her dad is played with Begbie-like intensity by Robert Carlyle). If it sounds bleak, it often is, but it’s also moving, insightful, and has a final shot, of Lucy trying to persuade a smile onto her blank features, that will break your heart.

Poignant, perceptive and unrelenting, this may be bleak, like all great drama, it is ultimately uplifting as well.