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Unloved, The (DVD Review)

17 May, 2011 By: Billy Gil

Street 5/24/11
$29.99 DVD
Not rated.
Stars Molly Windsor, Robert Carlyle, Lauren Socha.

Two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton moves from the shortlist of great actresses to the even shorter list of great female directors and screenwriters with her first film, the British TV movie The Unloved.

The film explores the system of public childcare in the United Kingdom through the eyes of an 11-year-old girl. The film throws viewers right in as Lucy (Molly Windsor) returns from a cigarette run for her dad (Robert Carlyle): She has lost the money, and he whips her, prompting notice from a social worker and doctor that sends her to a children’s home.

There she meets roommate Lauren (Lauren Socha), a teenager who takes Lucy under her wing. Lauren casually steals with Lucy in tow, but the two girls form a sisterly bond. Their unlikely friendship underpins a sad truth to the film — they’re the only two people who seem to truly care if the other lives or dies.

But The Unloved isn’t sappy. Far from it; the film never overly explains itself, occasionally to its detriment (it’s hard to feel much except distaste for Lucy’s parents, who are somewhat underwritten). It instead relies heavily on gorgeously shot, quiet scenes of British suburbia, an intoxicatingly dreamy soundtrack and its actors’ excellent performances.

The performance by Windsor, whom Morton perhaps directs to behave as a young Morton, goes beyond heartbreaking; it is full of an eerie emptiness that leaves you breathless. Ditto to the entire film.

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