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Oranges and Sunshine (2010)

 -  Drama | History  -  1 April 2011 (UK)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 3,144 users   Metascore: 60/100
Reviews: 44 user | 67 critic | 17 from Metacritic.com

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

Plot Summary | 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

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

[first lines]
Margaret Humphreys: So right now your baby needs to be safe, and you need a bit of support, don't you? I know you care, of course you do. But this will give you a chance to sort yourself out.
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Connections

Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.17 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Love in the City
Composer J. Stpkes
Publisher/Label KPM Music
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Second chance at an Oscar for Emily Watson?
20 June 2011 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Sarah's Key was critically lauded for its reliable method of evoking raw anguish in its audience by depicting the trauma of a savage injustice from a child's perspective. In the same year, Jim Loach's feature drama handles the similar material of an scandal that's just about on par with the Vel d'Hiv roundup, but the film's subjects are all well into adulthood by the time we are meeting them. The fact that the victims are always shown as adults (in physical form at least) has given the achievement of pulling off this excellent film a higher degree of difficulty, seeing as the actors and screenplay writers are required to work extra hard to win the audience's sympathy, rather than having the simple forgivable innocence of an actual child on screen doing the job. However, this is not to say that Sarah's Key was mere emotional pornography: it found excellent ways of challenging itself in other aspects which gave it a greater level of sophistication, but in terms of expressing the heartbreak, the feat of Oranges and Sunshine is much more remarkable.

Among the topics being explored here is the very complicated issue of adoption. The burdensome puzzle of how a child in an unstable family situation or an unhealthy state of living should receive professional help – whether such interference is truly protecting their best interests or inflicting deep psychological harm by depriving them of family – has long been troubling child protection authorities. In mid- twentieth-century England, the popular solution settled on was the organised deportation of these children to Australia. Told that they were orphans, with no living relatives to care for them, they would be sent over in large numbers and, once there, sold into slavery for a respected church organisation commonly refferrred to as "The Brothers".

Several decades later, a determined social worker from Nottingham has begun to single-handedly reunite the victims of the outrage with their family back in England. As they relate to her their heartwrenching stories, each with their own despicable atrocities on top of what has already been mentioned, the irreparable damage of being raised without a proper family becomes apparent, and they are reduced to miserable, vulnerable, homesick little children. Its frequent mentioning of mothers, its claim that the wound of lost parents will never truly heal, and the fact that most of the victims shown are boys creates very distinct allusions to Peter Pan, even before that similarity is actually mentioned by one of the people. An additional noticeable parallel between this film and another classic story is the idea of a child suffering lonesomely at the hands of a cruel organisation under the sneaky pretense that they are an orphan, which is reminiscent of Oliver Twist.

However, it would be grossly unfair to just cynically dissect this film using only comparisons: it displays a very impressive divergence from the typical conspiracy drama. Its most prominent asset is the fully- fledged characterisation of its activist hero and the equal attention spent on showing her suffering as well that of her clients. The delightful Emily Watson obviously does a great deal to bring her to life, playing her so brilliantly that she comes across as both perfectly likable and humanly multi-faceted. Hearing such painful stories is incredibly taxing, and the growing unpopularity she is gaining as she stirs the government and the press results in some truly terrifying personal attacks while she is staying in Australia, but as the authorities are refusing to assist her, she knows that she must not allows herself to withdraw from her mission as no one else will be willing to pick it up. She does, of course, also become estranged from her family as the task begins to consume her, but thankfully not instantly, allowing the satisfying realism to remain intact.

Also a relief is that a handful of the people she is helping are actually showing genuine gratitude and returning the favour by giving her personal assistance. The friendships she forms with these people are truly touching, and effectively lighten the situation for both the hero (Margaret) and the audience.

With a very capable supporting cast, featuring David Wenham, Hugo Weaving and Tara Morice (Strictly Ballroom), in the roles of the victims and Margaret's family, this is a highly commendable and worthwhile piece of filmmaking, let down only by the rather repetitive nature of the script, if anything.


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