14 January 2012
ORANGES AND SUNSHINE (Dir. Jim Loach, 2011, UK/Australia)
The directorial debut of Jim Loach is a moving social drama with a notable performance from Emily Watson. The film brings to light the child deportation scheme that took place after World War II. British children, many of whom were in care homes, were shipped off to Australia and forced to work as slave labour. In the 1980s, a social worker from Nottingham, uncovered the scandal and spent years reuniting children in Australia with their parents in the UK. Jim Loach opts for a slow moving narrative concerned primarily with detailing the emotional trauma of the children, many of whom we discover have been abused. The film is careful not to over sentimentalise the drama and also treads carefully from letting the events turn into another Hollywood 'crusade for justice' story. In many ways, Loach deliberately underplays much of the drama and thus maintains a level of sincerity that helps to consistently criticise the British and Australian government for their shameful conspiracy of silence. The film's ideological targets including religion, politics and the establishment instinctively recall the cinema of Ken Loach.