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The Unloved

September 11, 2010

The Unloved (2009)
Director: Samantha Morton
Actors: Molly Windsor, Lauren Socha, Craig Parkinson

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Synopsis: A vulnerable young girl (Molly Windsor) bounces between neglectful parents and social-care institutions in Nottingham.

ReviewThe Unloved is an interesting, if slightly obvious, directorial debut from Samatha Morton, as with earnest arthouse aesthetics she strives to make multi-dimensional her dirge about a young girl’s travails with destructive parents and flawed social care institutions. There is an undoubted poise and formal skill in Morton’s command of cinematography (not too dissimilar from her most notable mentor, Lynne Ramsay) but too often it is used to hammer home the pathos and misery of the little girl’s troubles. Scenes where the girl dreams of saintly interventions and sits with a placid deer in the local cemetery seem overly prettified, and the closing montage where the camera’s gaze is fixed intently on the girl’s sad face, highlights Morton’s keenness to make unequivocally clear where the audience’s sympathy need be directed. There are some subtler messages in Morton’s discourse, in particular the sense that as per the film’s title, it is not so much the cruelty the adults inflict upon the girl, but their selfishness and neglect (that goes for the social workers as well as the parents), that is the real tragedy. (March 2010)

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