Investigating the forced shipment of children to Australia, social worker Margaret Humphreys (Watson) discovers the scale of the migration, and the abuses it led to, run much deeper than she first thought.
Between the late 19th century and 1970, 130,000 British children taken into care were told their parents were dead, and shipped to Australia, where many suffered abuse at the hands of their new custodians. In his first feature, Jim Loach (son of Ken) tells the true story of the British social worker (Emily Watson) who exposed the scandal, and continues to fight on behalf of its victims — even managing to reunite a few with their birth parents. In less sensitive hands, Oranges And Sunshine might have been the cinematic equivalent of misery-lit. Instead, it has a quiet power, but in its studious avoidance of melodrama, it’s almost too low key for its own good.
Moving if low-key, Jim Loach's debut feature is proof that compassionate, socially conscious filmmaking runs in the family.
Reviewed by David Hughes