Title: The Unloved
Starring: Samantha Morton, Robert Carlyle, Susan Lynch, Molly Windsor, Lauren Socha
Directed By: Samantha Morton
UK Release Date: 10th May 2010
71,476 children in the UK are in care. A further 36,405 are on the “At Risk” register.
The Unloved is the directorial debut of Samantha Morton. Well regarded as an actress by most, by some thought to be the foremost actress of her generation, Morton has decided to take on duties behind the camera. The resultant work is a hard-hitting, and at times difficult to watch, piece of absorbing cinema. The Unloved is a child’s eye view of life in a children’s home. It takes a serious look at the problems that children in homes face including the often ineffective care that they receive.
11 year old Lucy (Molly Windsor) is brutally beaten by her father (Robert Carlyle) and ends up in Crop Row – a Nottingham children’s home – where she is alone and has to learn to cope with her new surroundings with little help from others, apart from her older room-mate Lauren (Lauren Socha) who has serious troubles of her own.
Whist some of the film was in one way absorbing, I still can’t say that I found this an enjoyable film to watch. It’s painful and emotional viewing. There is also the sort of sexual content that I personally never want to see in film as well as a large amount of swearing and abusive language which is distasteful, especially when coming from a child’s mouth. However this is no doubt a reasonably accurate portrayal of children (in children’s homes or not) so at least it is in context. Of course it’s not a documentary so whether or not it’s an accurate portray of life in a children’s home is open to debate.
The direction is passable but there are huge sections of film with nothing happening. This may be an accurate portrayal of what it is like to live with an abusive parent or in a children’s home but it doesn’t make for a good film. It’s a small problem but it doesn’t exactly help the pacing of the film. The images of Nottingham are actually very nicely done and the score is also fitting. That’s not to say that a lot of the film isn’t unremittingly grim. That said I enjoyed the end credits playing out over the sound of the blackbird song.
The Unloved is a mixed bag really, there’s good acting, decent direction and it’s a decent first film for Morton as director but there are some elements that I didn’t enjoy, I guess I wasn’t supposed to, but as it’s not a documentary then it might leave viewers confused over what to think.
Price: RRP: £12.99