Oranges and Sunshine

available on amazon
available on amazon

I was slow to rent this movie but finally did a month ago (I had been warned it was that good and it was) – it’s another example of government’s programs to distribute children to religious groups or to adoptive parents who are abusive or unknowing about such a despicable program.  This movie hurts and broke me up since it’s what I research and write about in my two books about American Indian Adoptees. These children had parents and were not orphans and yet some spent their lives in orphanages anyway. The abuse, especially of the men in this movie and book, will give you nightmares.

I thought I’d share one review from Amazon. It is a very good movie but a warning to those who have not watched it yet — it has triggers for adoptees like me… Trace/Lara

Understated, But Effective: A Powerful And Disturbing True Life Story Of Corruption, Cover-up, Abuse And Exploitation June 26, 2012

The subject matter of “Oranges and Sunshine” is almost too disturbing to be believed. And yet, remarkably, it is the true recounting of one of the largest scandals of the last few decades. In 1986, a British social worker named Margaret Humphreys started to piece together an amazing and harrowing story that involved the mass deportation of children from the United Kingdom to Australia. What she discovered was simply stunning. The scandal involved political corruption and cover-up, religious impropriety, human rights violations, slave labor, systematic abuse and a government program that divided hundreds of families and disappeared countless minor children. This is such a grand and epic tale, it’s hard to imagine that a film discussing these atrocities wouldn’t be aggressively in-your-face. But the beauty of “Oranges and Sunshine” is that it takes a quieter approach and as things start to unfold, the dramatic weight of the situation really sneaks up on you and bowls you over!
A restrained Emily Watson plays Humphreys, a woman who didn’t ask to be thrust into a worldwide spotlight. In the beginning of the film, she is approached by a woman for help finding her parents. This is when she firsts hears about children being shipped to Australia. Initially reticent and disbelieving, she soon hears a corroboration of this tale. She starts to dig deeper and push further, working between the U.K. and Australia to start repairing families. It consumes her life and livelihood, but she is pushed by a sense of justice. As word gets out, she is a savior to many but an embarrassment to others. And as the unfolding allegations put many important figures in an unfavorable light, she is soon discredited by many and attacked (both emotionally and physically). But as the investigation perseveres, there is soon no use denying the truth.
Watson is so reserved to begin with, it is quite powerful to see the strain start to shatter her existence. It’s a great performance in that it is completely underplayed and, therefore, all the more believable. Directed by Jim Loach (son of award winner Ken Loach), the film also boasts impressive support by David Wenham and Hugo Weaving. Both Weaving and Watson picked up actor accolades from Australian Film Critics Circle. As I watched the movie unravel fairly simply, I was sure I was going to give it four stars as a solid exploration of an unfathomable event. But then the magnitude and emotion really hit me in the concluding scenes and I realized just how well constructed the film actually was. With a minimum of histrionics, sentimentality, or moralizing, the screenplay and the actors really gets under your skin. And, in the end, I was deeply affected by “Oranges and Sunshine” because it didn’t go for all the big expected moments. Understatement done extremely well!
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4 thoughts on “Oranges and Sunshine

  1. I’m so glad you’ve viewed and reviewed this film of a true story. I knew Margaret a little at the time she began this journey and the story as it unfolded.The support she had from her bosses was the best and a credit to those who are so often criticised by the public. Margaret is in real life much more dynamic and engaging than portrayed.The tragic stories of those abused has been played down for the film. Their brutal and horrific abuse by the Christian Brothers was too horrible to be shown or revealed in this movie.However it is good that it was shown in part so that the public know what was done and is still being done in this culture of abuse It was an amazing first film, a long time in the making and deserves all the accolades it gets. .

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    1. Oh Von, I could not sleep for two days after. I definitely think of this as one of the top films I have ever watched.

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      1. I agree. I’ve never stopped thinking about it since I first saw it and we have a copy at home now.It’s such a delicate mix of humour, poignancy, nostalgia, heart-breaking facts and hard -hitting information presnted in such a sensitive and compassionate way. It took several years for Loach to presuade Margaret it would make a movie.Glad he persisted.

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  2. Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Lara reviews here the movie “Oranges and Sunshine”, a must watch for all. Given the subject, it is gentle, amusing in parts and approached with the greatest of sensitivity. Definitely on my list of the top films of all time!

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