Oranges and Sunshine is a 2010 drama, which is based on to book, Empty Cradles, by Margaret Humphreys. The story is true and follows Margaret (Emily Watson), a social worker from Nottingham, England. The film takes place during 1987, as Margaret discovers a a massive scandal involving the UK, Australia and Canada.
During her work, as a social worker, Margaret discovers that the government program, Home Children, is forcibly removing poor children from their families and relocating them to other countries throughout the world, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and others. She unravels the mystery, which reveals that many of the children were removed, without their parents’ knowledge, while the children were frequently led to believe that their parents were dead.
During Home Children’s operation, it was believed that 150,000 children were located in this manner, with some being as young as 3 years old. During the film, Margaret works to reunite some of the children, who are now adults, with their parents. Jack (Hugo Weaving) and Len (David Wenham) fall into this category. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end so well for one of the men.
So, how is the film? Well, it received quite a few nominations, due to the acting. Hugo Weaving even won the AACTA Aware for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. The story itself is ultimately very sad and twisted, at the same time. It is undoubtedly very eye opening to see how far governments will go to spend money and just who they’ll hurt, in order to do so.
Emily Watson and David Wenham are great in the film. Unfortunately, it feels a little too long, at times. The film perhaps focuses on the wrong storyline, instead of prodding the scandal further. A quicker pace would’ve definitely been appreciated. Ultimately, the film could’ve been much better, but this isn’t to say that it sucks, because it doesn’t. The acting is great, it is definitely sad and the story needs to be told repeatedly.
In the end, Oranges & Sunshine has a few glaring flaws, which may lure you to sleep, before the conclusion. However, if you manage to watch it all, your eyes will be opened and a new hatred for governments and certain religious organization will boil inside of you. For all of its shortcomings, Oranges and Sunshine is still a good view. A 7 out of 10 is likely realistic, but the story is far better.