8:00 PM, 9th September, 2011
The remarkable debut feature from Jim Loach (son of acclaimed director, Ken Loach), Oranges and Sunshine is based on the true story of British social worker Margaret Humphreys (Watson) and how she became embroiled in one of the most significant social scandals in history.
The catalyst for this involvement occurs in 1986, when she meets a woman who claims to have been sent from the UK to Australia when she was just a small child. Humphreys soon discovers a shocking scheme – a result of heartless bureaucracy – involving the forcible removal and relocation of children from low socio-economic backgrounds in the UK to Australia, Canada and other British colonies. Almost single-handedly, against overwhelming odds and with little regard for her own well-being, Margaret sets out to reunite thousands of families and bring worldwide attention to an extraordinary miscarriage of justice.
In total, one hundred and thirty thousand children – some as young as four – were migrated to Australia under the pretence that their parents were dead. Promised ‘oranges and sunshine’, many of the children ended up neglected, abused and doing hard labour for life. Watson gives an astonishing, heart-rending performance, as do David Wenham and Hugo Weaving as now-adult victims of the scheme. An education not to be missed, Oranges and Sunshine brings to the fore a dark period of Australian history: an aspect little known and shamefully neglected.
10:00 PM, 9th September, 2011
Germain (Depardieu) has comfortably settled down to a life of not settling down. He makes his way through life with various odd jobs, spending the rest of his time gardening (his true vocation) and hanging out in the pub with a group of cronies who affectionately regard him as the group thicko; a role that Germain feels is starting to wear a bit thin. The only people in his life who don’t routinely wound him are his girlfriend Annette (the sweet, beautiful Guillemin – how he managed to hook up with her is a minor mystery) and the Margueritte of the title (Casadesus), an old woman he meets in the park one day. The park-dwellers have little in common but immediately connect.
In a platonic kind of way, Germain is in love. It’s likely (although never made explicit) that Germain has finally found the mother he’s long wanted and needed. His biological mother is still alive; in fact he sees her all the time on account of living in a trailer outside her house. Presumably because he cannot stand to be inside her house, and no wonder – she’s a hateful woman, concentrated vinegar in human form.
The story is not one fraught with tension or awkwardness: it simply shows Germain’s life shifting out of one phase into the next. Ultimately, My Afternoons with Margueritte is an inoffensively likable movie, slighter than the director’s previous work (Conversations with My Gardener) but somehow more satisfying.