on August 10, 2013
What happens to children that for whatever reason, cannot be raised by either of their parents? They go into a maze of halfway homes, orphanages, and foster homes. This film details the life of a girl whose mother deserted the family and whose father loses custody of her. She ends up in a house full of other castaway children. And in doing so is exposed to drugs, sex, and lots of unsavory characters. Molly Windsor carries this film. She plays a quiet bright "good girl" who just wants to be with parents but who just keeps falling back into the system because neither of her parents can really love her. I think Molly was picked for the part because she is so lovable and it is hard for us to understand how her parents could not put her life ahead of their own desires. The pain in her face is unbearable to look at and sometimes you just cry. This is not a happy film but it is one that needed to be made. This happens to a LOT of kids. And in all cases, it is heartbreaking.
on August 19, 2012
Here's a story about a little girl, Lucy, who is completely ignored by an absent mother and beaten by an unbalanced father. She's put in a home that is run by the state. The other kids in the home are older than Lucy and many of them are messed up. The staff is incompetent and dysfunctional, (and worse.) Lucy is small, powerless and alone.
At the end of the movie, which I won't spoil, we are invited to think about Lucy's future, and the multitude of kids who face a similar uncertain future, and perhaps the futures of our own kids.
The movie is convincing, heartbreaking and devastating.
on December 13, 2013
This film is strikingly documentary-like, and very well acted. The child actress whose character is at the center of the film also does a lot of acting that involves no dialogue... and the expression on her face, and in her eyes, is often difficult (emotionally) for us to 'experience'.
Others have commented regarding the gist of the film, and the events which unfold in it. I simply want to add some of my thoughts and reaction to the film.
There is so much that is realistic about this film, and it can feel somewhat 'long' to watch, given the pace at which things occur -- but the pace, and what takes place, and in the way that it does, is also part of what is effective about the film -- you almost feel as though you're 'witnessing' periods of time in this little girl's life 'along with her' (in a way), and she isn't so much 'experiencing' her life as she is 'existing' within it -- as though 'doing time' (and during her one and only childhood, at that) -- which is part of the heartbreak in watching this. She is 'in' a system that is supposed to help her, but she is all but cast adrift within it, and must seemingly go it alone, in ways...and is practically 'invisible'. Despite the physical presence of various (and older) human beings, it is as though she is forced to exist within a kind of nurtureless ghost town... and you desperately want to pluck her from the film and find her a loving home.
One of the more subtlely accretive heart-tugging aspects of this film is the fact that the child seen onscreen for the majority of the film so often has a 'neutral' and emotionally 'numb' face, and is quiet/silent -- when what we expect (and want) to see a child's life involve (though understandably, would not see in this type of circumstance) is happiness, smiling, and laughter. The sight -- and knowledge -- of an emotionally numb child, and knowing that this type of survival mechanism (which is essentially the mind's way of preserving itself, and allowing the human being in question to function) emerges as a result of great emotional pain and trauma -- is disturbing, to say the least, and is uncomfortable to watch, partly due to the fact that it 'goes against nature' -- children should not 'know' the type of emotional pain that results in such... but so many do.
The ultimate knife twist in all of this is that we see/'know' how gentle, kind, and sweet this child is -- and she is essentially guardianless, and, as the title says, unloved -- and additionally, as the title indicates, by its use of the word "The" in "The Unloved", this little girl is but one of many such children (and whether in England or elsewhere) whose lives do not include this basic human need, let alone during the timeframe when it is needed most -- in childhood. A powerful aspect of this film is in showing that such children also often experience the apathy of the society in which they live (and that of dysfunctional institutions purported to help (just because a system exists doesn't mean it's effective -- or truly *trying*)), and can and often do experience such apathy -- and neglect -- for prolonged periods of time (and time is disproportionately perceived/'felt'/'experienced' when we're children -- a year can feel like an eternity).
These children are all but 'pushed aside', and practically forgotten -- which is an abomination.
This film is the first film directed by Samantha Morton, who in addition to being a remarkable actress, was made a ward of the court at the age of 8, and spent years in group homes and foster care (in England) -- this film is based on her experiences, and that of others who she knew... and while many refer to this as her "directorial debut", she considers this a one-off experience -- she doesn't consider herself to be a director, but felt compelled to get this story "out of her system"... and she began storyboarding it when she was 16. Samantha stated in an interview that "The Unloved" is a censored version of what took place; she intentionally diluted its content, and omitted aspects of violence, sexual abuse, and torture. She conveyed, "I'm not going to make a children's film and turn it into a horror film. I wanted to make a film that someone from the age of 13 could watch and get, and it would change them." Samantha intentionally left various aspects unanswered/unexplained, due to its reflecting the reality that for many children, they never get an explanation for why various things did or did not take place (such as why one of their parents wasn't around, or beat them, or abandoned them).
This is a bleak film that is depressing to watch, but it is also important, and worth seeing.
on November 18, 2015
I've loved this film for a long time. Watched again last night with my daughter. I wanted to her to see it not to make her feel bad, but to make her aware that sometimes that classmate in school who keeps to themselves, has no friends, maybe even purposely gets into trouble is probably navigating difficult circumstances at home. I want my kids to stop and think that perhaps there is a very good reason for their behavior and\or isolation. Before we watched it I warned her it was going to be very sad, but made a point to explain that the film was about the woman who made it and she is now a successful director. In many ways it's may be too heavy for kids and I was conflicted about her watching it. We did fast forward through the beating and the rape. It was worth it though. She really liked it and I do think it affected her in a way that she may now stop and think and talk to that "strange" or "quiet" kid. To extend a branch of friendship even if most of her classmates do not.
One thing I find a little funny. There are reviews that declare this movie is slow and boring. Well, my 9 year old happily sat through it and enjoyed it very much. I wasn't sure she would and would not have made her continue watching if she didn't want to. On the other hand if a 9 year old can sit through a slower paced art film that says a lot about adults who can't. If you watch every film with the expectation you are going to be "entertained" and get frustrated when you're not, there are going to be a lot of incredibly good films you'll miss out on.