The Unloved Review: The Clue’s in the Title

May 17, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

THE UNLOVED, Sunday 17th May, Channel 4, 9pm, Alert Me

Well, don’t say Samantha Morton didn’t warn you.

Short of calling it ‘A Perennial Downer’, the Oscar-nominated British actress couldn’t have named her directorial debut anything more accurate, and it’s safe to say this deeply personal and stripped back look into the British care system taps into the harsh realities that thousands of children have and are still going through each and every day.

The Unloved follows 11 year-old Lucy as she is placed into care in Nottinghamshire’s Crop Row children’s home after suffering regular physical abuse at the hands of her violent father (Robert Carlisle).

She’s soon shepherded into sharing a room with gobby 16-year old Lauren, and what unfolds is an incredibly grounded view of the British care system through the innocent, bewildered eyes of a child.

Morton (Synecdoche, New York, Minority Report) drew on her own childhood to create the world Lucy inhabits, and to her credit, she’s crafted a reflective one. The sparsity of dialogue and clinical supervisory structure within the home combine to portray a dark, bleak and seemingly hopeless existence for a girl who’s only sin was to be born to a pillock of a father.

The care the children are lumped with comes in for particular criticism, and through snippets of abuse and neglect, it’s clear that the kids are left to each other and increasingly dodgy activities to gain any semblance of love or support. As Lucy’s review begins to loom, she’s left in a room with a carer who, you’d hope, would be doing her best to reassure this fragile, unloved child about her uneasy future.

Instead, there’s no concessions for the fact that Lucy’s a child and the carer excuses her complete lack of presence (and competence) with the stark, business-like comment; “I would’ve been here more, but the office hasn’t been paying my petrol money.?

Great going there, Gandhi.

The Uninvited is uncomfortable viewing, but all the more poignant and relevant for it. Morton’s competency as an actor easily extends to that as a director, and as long as you’re patient enough to get through the unashamedly tempered, brutally honest pace and tone, you’re guaranteed to come away with the overwhelming feeling of sympathy and shock that these forgotten, unloved children both need and deserve.

Matt Risley

JJH says:

biggest load of sh*te i’ve ever watched. i didn’t want to watch her walking around or sitting on a bus for hours whilst listening to annoying music.

Jess says:

This was so sad. Channel 4’s homeless programmes have been excellent. I hope it gets the recognition it needs.