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Oranges and Sunshine (2010)

7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 3,003 users   Metascore: 60/100
Reviews: 43 user | 66 critic | 17 from Metacritic.com

Set in 1980s Nottingham, social worker Margaret Humphreys holds the British government accountable for child migration schemes and reunite the children involved -- now adults living mostly in Australia -- with their parents in Britain.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Margaret Humphreys
...
Susie
Stuart Wolfenden ...
Bill
...
Nicky
Federay Holmes ...
Charlotte
...
Merv
Molly Windsor ...
Rachel
Harvey Scrimshaw ...
Ben
Tammy Wakefield ...
Susan
...
Australia House Official (as Alastair Cummings)
Kate Rutter ...
Vera
...
Jack
Marg Downey ...
Miss Hutchison
Geoff Revell ...
Syd
Chrissie Page ...
Betty
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Storyline

Set in 1980s Nottingham, social worker Margaret Humphreys holds the British government accountable for child migration schemes and reunite the children involved -- now adults living mostly in Australia -- with their parents in Britain.

Add Full Plot | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Thousands of lost children. A secret buried by time. One woman will bring the truth to light. See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some strong language | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

1 April 2011 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Laranjas e Sol  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.16 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Wild World
Written and performed by Cat Stevens
Courtesy of Universal-Island Records Ltd
Courtesy of Universal Music Operations Ltd
Published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd
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User Reviews

 
They were promised oranges and sunshine.
14 January 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Oranges and Sunshine is directed by Jim Loach and adapted to screenplay by Rona Munro from the book "Empty Cradles", written by Margaret Humphreys. It stars Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham and Richard Dillane. Music is by Lisa Gerrard and cinematography by Denson Baker. The film tells the true story of Margaret Humphreys (Watson), a Nottingham social worker who in 1986 began uncovering the scandal of forced child migration from the UK to various countries of the Commonwealth. Thousands upon thousands of children who were either from poor families or orphaned, were sent to British colonies under a banner of lies. Where instead of the oranges and sunshine they were expecting, they were put to work as hard labour and suffered terrible conditions to live in as well as abuse at the hands of their carers.

Lost Children Of The Empire.

It's a story ripe for exploitation, for a bit of shock cinema, the kind that assaults you with horrific images, but Oranges and Sunshine is a rare beast, a true life horror tale that accentuates the outrage by remaining understated and steady in sombre tone. This is expert film making from Loach (son of Ken), letting the story unfold with a naturalism that makes it a deeply moving experience. No histrionic characterisations by the actors, no grandstanding speeches or attempts to paint Margaret Humphreys as an armour plated crusader risking death at every turn. It's cold, yet humane, in its telling, the pain of story etched on the faces of the lost children, now adults searching for identity and a family thread to stitch it together. The emotional uplift of the reunion scenes gladdens the heart, but never once does the film proclaim, like its wonderful protagonist, that what has been lost can be replaced. But identity is comforting, the fragmented pieces of childhoods ruined finally piecing themselves together.

Who was crucified huh? You tell me that.

Thankfully the makers resist, rightly, the urge to show flashback scenes of the children suffering. We know just by dialogue exchanges and character reactions, just what pain and misery was bestowed upon these minors. Yet the film is full of powerful scenes that really grip and hold the heart, where quite often they are just quiet conversations, a statement made or a question asked. Or even in silence for one truly potent sequence as Margaret visits Bindoon Boys Town in Western Australia, an imposing, but elegant structure on the outside, but that elegance belies the terrible crimes perpetrated by the cleric elders within. Loach and his team don't need tricks or historical tampering to make their film dramatic and worthy, the story sells itself on both counts.

Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world.

Picture is propelled by a wonderfully restrained performance by Watson. A perfect bit of casting, Watson never screams for our sympathies, she hits the right emotional notes required, but never strains to get there, she plays Margaret as a bastion of decency. She deftly blends stoicism with vulnerability as Margaret juggles the emotional strains of the search with that of the safe haven of her family home that she is away from for long periods. Watson is surrounded by three damn fine male performances. Weaving and Wenham as the "lost boys" underpin the story, they perfectly embody the crushing of the childhood spirit, a two pronged acting show that says so much for the thousands of children who were cruel victims of the child migration schemes. Dillane scores high as Margaret's husband, he perfectly understands the tone of the movie and turns in a respectful and appropriate performance as Margaret's loving crutch.

It's not all perfect, Margaret is met with some resistance and finds herself in a couple of tricky situations, but the evil nature of the wrong-doers never fully surfaces to give her a formidable foe to respond too. Nor is anyone made accountable for their heinous crimes, something which leaves a frustrating taste in the mouth. However, the point of the movie, the attention brought to the story it's about and the skill with which said story is told, ensures that these are just minor quibbles in one of the best movies of the year. 9/10


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