"Defending the Children"
ORANGES AND SUNSHINE is based on the true story of a British social worker who stumbles on a vast conspiracy to ship poor English children to Australia, where many were abused by the Catholic priests running the foster care system. ORANGES AND SUNSHINE suffers from a plodding pace, brief foul language, and disturbing tales of abuse that almost make it seem as if all Catholic priests are monstrous, abusive child molesters.
ORANGES AND SUNSHINE, derived from the autobiographical book, EMPTY CRADLES, is based on the true story of Margaret Humphreys, a British social worker. Margaret uncovers a tragic conspiracy between the British and Australian government for their illegal child migration program.
Set in the mid-1980s in Nottingham, Margaret Humphreys is a social worker who takes great pride in her work but even greater pride in her husband and two children. One day, an Australian woman approaches Margaret and tells her an unbelievable story. The woman claims to have been shipped off from England to Australia when she was a child and placed into a foster care system Down Under.
The woman wants nothing more from Margaret than for her to look into the woman’s case and help her find her mother. At first, Margaret dismisses the woman. That is, until she hears a story a few days later of another man, Jack, who experienced the same fate of being shipped off as a young boy to Australia. Margaret looks into the woman’s case, and she’s able to reunite the woman with her mother. However, as Margaret researches the case, she uncovers a vast, decades-long conspiracy that shipped off thousands of poor children to Australia. Apparently, it was cheaper to care for them in Australia rather than Britain.
Soon, Margaret is on a one-woman mission to reunite as many of these children, now adults, with the parents and country from which they were illegally separated. Apart from the moral tragedy of the children’s forced deporation, she also uncovers a horrific history of physical and sexual abuse from the Australian priests who ran the children’s foster care system. Margaret finds herself the target of threats, smear campaigns, and assaults as she stands against the British government, the Australian government, and the priests of the foster care system. As she becomes obsessed with helping all of these hurting people who come to her looking for their families, Margaret runs the risk of losing her family, her health, and her life.
Based on Margaret Humphreys’ true story, ORANGES AND SUNSHINE offers a compelling, dramatic premise, but it doesn’t deliver on that premise. It could be a great movie, but it suffers from a plodding pace that is disengaging to the point of being boring. The movie does, however, have some great performances from the cast, namely Hugo Weaving’s turn as Jack, a grown-up man who longs only to meet his mother. Known mostly for his dry, straight-laced characters such as Agent Smith in the MATRIX trilogy, Weaving really breaks form in this movie. He delivers an emotionally stirring, tear inducing – even award winning – a performance of a man broken by the weight of the life he’s lived and the pain he’s endured.
The movie does have a moral worldview that seeks to right the wrongs done to these poor children. The ending includes real audio from the British Prime Minister as his government acknowledges the atrocity in which they participated. Margaret lives her life to redeem the pain these people suffered.
However, the movie is anti-Christian, namely anti-Catholic, in its portrayal of the Christian faith. It depicts priests as monstrous, abusive child molesters. There’s also some very brief, yet incredibly strong, foul language when people threaten Margaret, in addition to some disturbing sexual stories of abuse by the priests.
(B, AbAb, C, PC, Ho, LL, V, SS, A, D, MMM) Moral worldview as woman fights to reunite migrant orphans with their parents, marred by strong anti-Christian and anti-Catholic elements as stories abound of orphans who were verbally, physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by Catholic priests while being forced in child labor to build churches, sanctuaries and stations of the Cross, although it has one man asking, “who was really being crucified,” but some positive aspects of Christian adoption are shown, woman tells of the shame she felt for having a child out of wedlock, some politically correct comments made about governement and repressing the poor, and strong emphasis on the fulfillment of orphans wanting to meet their mothers but not their fathers, mothers are painted as making a child feel “whole” with “nothing missing” and man name-calls a woman a socialist lesbian; 15 obscenities, three profanities; light violence includes woman is assaulted and threatened, stories of children being herded during deportation, stories of children being beaten and forced into child labor by priests; married kissing and married sex shown and men tell graphic stories of sexual abuse by priests; no nudity; some beer and wine use depicted; cigarette smoking depicted in several scenes; and, threats, smear campaigns to undermine a woman’s work, Catholic priests are depicted as abusive molesters, and conspiracy between the British and Australian governments to illegally deport over 130,000 orphans into international foster care over several decades.
ORANGES AND SUNSHINE is based on the true story of Margaret Humphreys, a British social worker. Margaret uncovers a vast, decades-long conspiracy shipping thousands of poor children to Australia. Soon, Margaret is on a one-woman mission to reunite as many of these children, now adults, with the parents and country from which they were illegally separated. Apart from the moral tragedy of the children’s forced deportation, she also uncovers a horrific history of physical, sexual abuse by the Australian priests running the foster care system. Margaret finds herself the target of threats, smear campaigns, and assaults as she stands against the British, Australian governments, and the priests running the foster care system.
ORANGES AND SUNSHINE offers a dramatic premise, but it doesn’t always deliver on that premise. It suffers from a plodding pace that disengages to the point of boredom in many scenes. The movie does, however, have great performances, especially Hugo Weaving as a grown-up man who longs only to meet his mother. There is also brief but very strong foul language, disturbing tales of abuse, and a bigoted depiction of Catholic priests as monstrous, abusive child molesters.