The trouble with reviewing a film like Oranges & Sunshine, where one is familiar with locations and back-story, is that one can be overly critical over small detail and miss the thrust and drama of the narrative. It appeared that scenes purported to be Western Australian were filmed in South Australia. Was that a stobie pole I saw outside a house made of Mt Gambier stone?Also, what looked like the lower Flinders Ranges doesn’t quite replicate Bindoon country.
All that aside, however, it is good that this story is portrayed in a tastefully understated manner. We are spared graphic and gratuitous images of the institutional horrors that took place under the child migration schemes as we hear some selected stories through the eyes and ears of Margaret Humphreys, the Nottingham social worker who stumbled across and exposed the need for justice for the survivors of the scheme. All she sought to do was reunite them with the families that they had been told didn’t exist. She finds herself a lightning rod for criticism and retribution as institutional perpetrators run for cover. The story is as much about Margaret Humphreys as those she seeks to assist. All who are in people-helping vocations know how necessary it is to set boundaries for self-preservation. All who are in people-helping vocations know that there are times when the issues are so compelling that the boundaries break down and there is great personal cost. This reality is transcended through the words of “hard case” Len who counsels a weeping Margaret who is frustrated that she can’t make things right for the thousands of families affected by the scheme – “You feel the pain that we no longer can – that is all we need.”