Oranges and Sunshine

| October 19, 2011

Oranges and Sunshine depicts the true story of British social worker, Margaret Humphreys (Emily Watson), who by chance uncovered the scandalous covert deportation of over 100,000 children that took place over 2 decades from the United Kingdom to Australia by boat. Many parents were told their children had been adopted and on to a better life while the children were told their parents had died. Margaret (Emily Watson) single-handedly set out on a quest to help these adult children find their truth and identity.
Emily Watson is an engaging actress. She is a rare artist who actually transforms into the character she portrays. In this film she is a social worker who goes from having a small private practice and leading small support groups to the enormous commitment of finding the identities of thousands of people who were secretly sent away as children to labor camps in Australia. We see the stress that starts to wear on her when she hears all the pain and suffering of the people’s stories she interviews, not to mention harassment by the people still trying to cover up the political end and, on top of that, just missing her family and seeing her kids grow up without her as she travels back and forth between countries. As a result, she develops post-traumatic stress disorder. The supporting cast is equally strong. At times the film actually felt like a documentary, especially in its portrayal of the abused children. The role of the husband was a little over the top. He is the quintessential perfect supportive, super accommodating husband as she flies back and forth from the UK to Australia spending weeks of every month there leaving her husband with her 2 young kids. If more men were actually like this we wouldn’t have divorce rate statistics.
The only part I was disappointed with was the story of the brother and sister duo. We follow their story from the beginning and eventually find out that they were very loved by their mother and when the trace gets closer to the mother we find out she passed away the year before the search began. So we never find out how they ended up in Australia at a labor camp when it’s very clear they were very loved and were told their mother would never do such a thing. This is really frustrating to just leave you with that loose end but maybe it was the effect they wanted to instill on the viewer so we too could really experience what these people are going through dealing with all the unanswered questions and leading a life haunted by their past.

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