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critics consensus

Grounded in a heartwrenching fact-based story, steered by Loach's sensitive direction, and led by a powerful performance from Watson, Oranges and Sunshine sidesteps its pacing problems and occasionally clichéd screenplay. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Until the early 1970s, thousands of British children -- many orphans, others taken by social workers from broken homes -- were packed onto ships bound for Australia. Promised "oranges and sunshine," many instead endured abuse in workhouses as virtual slaves. In 1987, Nottingham, England, social worker Margaret Humphreys (Emily Watson) learns the horrific extent of this program as she attempts to help two of its survivors, the timid Jack (Hugo Weaving) and the violent Len (David Wenham).

Cast & Crew

Emily Watson
Margaret Humphreys
Jim Loach
Director
Rona Munro
Screenwriter
Denson Baker
Cinematographer
Dany Cooper
Film Editor
Lisa Gerrard
Original Music
Jane Levick
Art Director
Tuesday Stone
Art Director
Cappi Ireland
Costume Designer
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News & Interviews for Oranges and Sunshine

Critic Reviews for Oranges and Sunshine

All Critics (72) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (50) | Rotten (22)

Audience Reviews for Oranges and Sunshine

  • Dec 09, 2012
    Really good movie based on sad, but true, events. A rather painful movie to watch. Any time anyone is brutalized is awful, but when children are involved... well, it causes me to yet again wonder why mankind does what it does. The events that happened here are horrendous, and I applaud those that tried to help these victims. Watching this well done film has prompted me to furthur search this story. .....
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 08, 2012
    A gut-wrenching tale, based on a true story, of the campaign by Margaret Humphreys, a British social worker, to understand how and why thousands of children were torn from their families and sent to Australia and other colonies, to live in horrible conditions. Emily Watson is a tour de force as the woman who would not relent until she had some answers for these lost souls who came to her for help in trying to find who they are. An excellent supporting cast, a tight script and a compelling story come together to make this an emotional journey and a recommended film.
    Mark A Super Reviewer
  • Jan 28, 2012
    Honourable mention: one of the worst films of 2011.
    Robert F Super Reviewer
  • Nov 15, 2011
    In "Oranges and Sunshine," Margaret Humphreys(Emily Watson) is a social worker in Nottingham, England in 1986 who is first seen in assisting in taking a baby away from a mother unable to care for her. One night after a group therapy session, she is accosted by a woman who claimed to be deported to Australia when she was a child and is now seeking her birth mother. Some time later, Margaret hears a similar story from a woman trying to contact her brother who was sent to Australia at about the same time. Thinking they may not be exactly isolated cases, she contacts Australia House for information which she does not receive but does instead get confirmation which is almost as valuable. With the support of her husband Merv(Richard Dillane), the next stop for Margaret is Australia. Written by Rona Munro and directed by Jim Loach, "Oranges and Sunshine" may be a little rough around the edges but still packs a wallop in depicting a real life tragedy. The movie does not take the easy way out by showing the reunions and the emotional climax is satisfying in a subtle way, as we are not sure what is going on at first. As the final credits reveal, there were about 130,000 children involved in the deportation which went on to 1970.(According to one account I read, white Australians were afraid of being outnumbered by Aborigines.) Where the movie excels in the place of a potential documentary is in telling the personal stories of heartbreak of those deported who were victimized not only by separation but also from abuse.(And Hugo Weaving is superb in playing one of the grown men.) Margaret is deeply touched by those she encounters as she undergoes an emotional journey which is never easy and still continues to the present day. Along the way, she learns she is not alone and becomes a part of a much larger family while receiving support from her own.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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