July 28, 2010
Sometimes all it takes for a film to fail miserably is for just one detail to be out, especially if that detail is actually something of a lynchpin for the film. This was unfortunately my experience of Samantha Morton’s directorial debut, The Unloved (2009). Co-written with Tony Grisoni and based upon events and experiences of Morton’s own life growing up, The Unloved is a snapshot of an eleven-year-old girl’s experience of the UK’s social welfare system. But the problem lies with its protagonist, Lucy (Molly Windsor), who somehow, despite her screen father (Robert Carlyle, whose acting abilities actually seem to be getting worse) having a Scottish accent, and despite her living in the middle of the north of England, somehow has an accent that sounds a lot like it came from one of the home counties…hmm.
But for those of you who can disavow deep enough to let this detail slide, the film will be fairly decent. It’s a straight forward drama offering a grim picture of UK social care that is in some ways fair but also very one-dimensional, failing to properly explicate or elucidate issues surrounding resources and infrastructure. Welfare in the UK is not strictly social issue as it is inherently linked to greater political and economic concerns.
The strongest performance (and indeed character) in the film is Lauren Socha who is both believable and compelling in all her scenes, the only problem then being her constant outshining of the other cast members. Originally made for TV in the UK (and best left there), The Unloved is disappointingly less informative or moving than a simple stroll around pretty much any council estate anywhere in England. One for the middle-classes, innit.
The Unloved screens as part of this year’s MIFF and will be screening again on Monday August 02 2010, 7pm at The Forum.