Orange and Sunshine is the debut feature from Jim Loach, son of acclaimed director Ken Loach, who has opted to follow in his dad’s socialist footsteps and focus on real, human narratives. The result is eye-opening and informative but sadly far from heart-melting.
The plot sees social worker Margaret Humphreys uncovering one of the biggest scandals of recent times: the deportation of thousands of children from the UK to Australia. Single-handedly, she attempts to reunite these now adults - who were told their parents were dead - with their families.
Oranges and Sunshine contains all the ingredients necessary to make it a tearjerker: the social worker who is unreservedly invested in reuniting families in spite of being antagonised by people protesting against her cause, and thousands of victims, who have suffered at the hands of their Australian carers. Unfortunately, however, these elements fail to translate on-screen to form an affecting movie.
The cast (including Emily Watson and Hugo Weaving) is solid enough, but the charisma of a, let’s say, Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich is missing, making it hard for you to connect with the characters and therefore the movie.
Loach has potential as a director, but his debut, while it ticks all the right boxes on paper, fails to move you the way it should.