Newest Review: ... story. ==Additional Information== The film was released in 2010 with the DVD following in 2011. It runs for 96 minutes. It is di... more
Making the Waves
Oranges and Sunshine (DVD)
Member Name: thedevilinme
Oranges and Sunshine (DVD)
Date: 05/03/12, updated on 06/03/12 (52 review reads)
Advantages: Story that needed to be told
Disadvantages: Not told strongly enough
Star - Emily Watson
Genre - True Story
Run Time - 96 minutes
Country - UK/Australia
Social workers are in the news again. The Prime Minister has pledged to sweep away the prejudice involved in the adoption system and, where suitable, allow far more white parents to adopt ethnic minority children than currently the case, something scorned upon by 'lefty 'social workers. They don't seem to like middle-class people's motives in wanting a baby not of their skin color and some how feel the child will lose its culture and identity if they do hand over all the ethnic minority children to the suburbs. Presumably the same social workers think these kids would rather stay in care or live in a Hackney tower block than be in a proper loving family, the divisiveness of the adoption system the subject of this rather revealing true story.
It's the story of real life Nottingham social worker, Margaret Humphries, who, in the 1980s, discovered that local authorities had been taking kids into care on the most tenuous excuse and exporting them to Commonwealth countries to start a new life, right up until 1970s, without their parents knowledge, some of the kids ending up being abused and corrupted in all manner of organizations overseas. It was pretty radical social engineering and may still have been going on today in some form if it wasn't for Margaret Humphries tenacity and courage to find out more, the last cases discovered as late as 1982. Reasons to take children away from parents in the old days were very different to they are today. Under Blair and New Labor everything was done on cost reasons and so kids kept with often abusive parents and so Baby P deaths common, whereas just after the war being a single parent or too promiscuous was enough to lose your children to social services. Up to 140,000 British children were put on this scheme over the 120 years of its existence. Can you imagine the compensation payouts today if it was still happening?
The star of the show is Emily Watson, not that Hermione bird from the Harry Potter films, that's Emma Watson, but the rather familiar English Rose from films like Breaking the Waves and Hilary and Jackie, a woman I have had a crush on for ages, three previous girlfriends looking uncomfortably like here. She has the cutest blue eyes and little nose you could ever see and you just want to pinch it with your finger and thumb and give it a squiggle! She has been nominated for two Oscars and highly respected but has become this jobbing actress of late as the more glamorous Kate Winsletts and Keira Knightly's have long since rolled up the darkened windows in the limos and driven off into the sunshine with the big awards and kudos she has been denied. Emily Watson is a very good actress and deserves stronger scripts than this.
Hugo Weaving ... Jack
Emily Watson ... Margaret Humphreys
David Wenham ... Len
Tara Morice ... Pauline
Aisling Loftus ... Susie
Stuart Wolfenden ... Bill
Lorraine Ashbourne ... Nicky
Geoff Morrell ... Walter
Margaret Humphreys (Watson) is a Child Protection Officer for Nottingham Borough Council, where, on a post adoption meeting for adults, she meets an Australia woman, Nicola (Lorraine Ashbourne), who claims not to know where she was born and who her mother was and needs help to find out. Rather coincidentally, Margaret is also in correspondence with a woman in Australia, Madeline, with a similar tale, trying to find her blood mother in Nottingham, where she knows she was born but was separated from for unknown reasons and shipped off to Australia as a kid.
Margret is curious about the cases and decides to investigate, her professor husband Mervyn keen to help, the two quickly discovering that quite a few kids were sent out there from all of Britain's major cities to help 'seed' the new world with white children, kids often abused when they got there and used as cheap labor, the church, as you would expect, particular keen to get hold of the young ones, Australia, Canada and New Zealand all involved in the scheme run covertly by the government.
As Margaret digs deeper her discoveries begin to generate media and TV coverage, the kids often told their mums had died or were in prison so they signed wavers aboard to ever know who they were, thousands sent out to the colonies from the Midlands alone.
It's agreed with her boss that this is important work for the council and she should dedicate herself to the project to try, where possible, get the mums back with their children, and give two years and appropriate funding to make it work. This will involve trips to Australia and lots of tears but Margaret up for the challenge. But on her first visit to Australia it's obvious the country is not happy with the bad publicity she drags off the carousel at Adelaide Airport and soon on her own. But some Aussies do want her to succeed, help coming from an unexpected source, that of obnoxious South Australian Len (David Wenham), he, too, a mum short, sent deep into the Gibson Desert with other many other kids to be forced labor at a Catholic Monastery, and with nowhere to run.
The question now is just how many people are willing to be matched up with their mums in England and just how many are there in Australia, the numbers climbing by the day, this scheme clearly been going on for a very long time with both the British and Australian government fully involved.
Well it's not bad but no more than that, probably why you haven't heard of it. For director Jim Loach's $4,500,000 budget it looks authentic enough although it stands completely on Watson's performance and becomes that and little more. As with most of these 'based on a true story' heart string pullers the real people involved are no where near as cute as the actors who play them and that takes away slightly here. Would the beautiful Emily Watson be a social worker in Nottingham? No. If you're going to do an authentic film on such an emotive subject then maybe a softer cast was required so the subject and not the actors become the point of interest. I understand that Hugo Weaving and Emily Watson were cast as that brings in the required funding in the English/Australia film partnership but it just needed less twee acting and someone more authoritative and sassy in Watsons lead role, say a Kathy Bates or Judy Dench. And some of the scenes in the film are not tat accurate, like when Margaret points out her discovery to her Nottingham council line manager and she decides to give her two years on the job with full funding and no questions asked. I suspect the social workers reading this would chuckle at that amicable cooperation.
With solid pacing and consistent performances the film tries to pull you in but it just doesn't have enough heart for you to really care for these people. They are all grown up and
living with their demons and clearly more Aussie than English, many doing well for themselves, the apathy of their upbringing making them better people, it seems. I think there life back in Nottingham with their single moms and sink estates would have been far worse and so you find it hard to sympathize with the films truths. We dont get to hear who was found to account either in the government. The forced child evictions were something Australia and Britain didn't want to talk about and it's a film, it seems, the public didn't want to see, either. Sometimes the facts can get in the way of the drama, and that's the central problem here. Fans of Emily Watson should watch it as she is still gorgeous at 45.
Imdb.com - scores it 7.1/10.0 (1,456 votes)
Metacritic.com - 60% critics approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 70% critics approval rating
Chicago Sun Times - "Emily Watson, a delicate English rose, has never seemed more sturdy than here"
The Sun - "Jim Loach's feature debut presents the horrific injustice of forced child migration in a calm, measured manner"
Boston Globe - "The sincerity of feeling is unmistakable. So's the flat-footedness of the writing".
Chicago Globe -"The result is a problem drama with more problem than drama"
The Telegraph -"Once, very early on, the secret deportations have been exposed there aren't many new places for the film to go - just more scenes of an increasingly tired-looking Emily Watson trudging around with an armful of file folders".
Jim Loach talks about is film
Cast & Crew and some of the real people involved chat away to an audience at a Q&A.
Cast & Crew talking heads piece.
Summary: TV movie dressed up as a movie