DRAMA; 1hr 44min
STARRING: Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham
New horizons: Weaving and Watson
How could thousands of children have been illegally taken from their British single mothers, routinely told their parents were dead, and shipped to draconian Australian orphanages in the 1940s and ’50s for a so-called better life with nobody making a move in protest? Nottingham social worker Margaret Humphreys (Watson) asks the same question in 1986 when confronted by the first of the many yearning, troubled adults that these children have grown to be. Humphreys devotes herself to finding their families, ping-ponging between England and Australia in an unceasing search. It’s gruelling work, and she feels it, but even at her most confronted she’s unable to turn away.
Oranges and Sunshine is a real-life story whose impact sneaks up on you. Calmly told by director Jim Loach (son of eminent film-maker Ken Loach), its theme of stolen identity strikes at the core of who we are. Weaving and Wenham are a terrific study in contrasts as they each seek a resolution. And as a collected yet caring Watson plays her, Humphreys and her moving of emotional mountains brings a new resonance to grace under pressure.