The brilliant Samantha Morton proves she is just as vital behind the camera as she is in front of it, with her heart-rending debut, The Unloved.
After being beaten by her father, 11-year-old Lucy (Windsor) finds herself swiftly sent to a childrens home. While initially struggling to cope in her new environment, Lucy soon befriends her older roommate, Lauren, who she turns to for friendship and protection. But, when Lucy witnesses some seedy and disturbing goings on within the childrens home, she flees the scene in search of her birth mother.
Premiering on TV but deservedly receiving a modest cinematic release shortly after, Mortons movie, which mirrors the directors own childhood experiences, is a tough and bold piece. Merging gritty kitchen sink aesthetics and naturalistic performances with a sometimes stylised melancholy, The Unloved is a captivating, absorbing and somewhat unique drama. But its not style as much as the emotional impact of Mortons very personal work that makes The Unloved so powerful and utterly heartbreaking. An all-too real depiction of childhood abuse and alienation, the film is a brutally direct tale aided by strong and believable performances (a highlight being the superb chav-tastic Lauren Socha from Misfits).
With no real resolve at the films end, it makes sense that Morton decided after filming The Unloved that the film should now become part of a trilogy, where she aims to further explore the world of foster care homes and homelessness. Lets hope she sees it through.
Overall Verdict: A powerful, memorable drama and a promising debut from Morton.
Reviewer: Lee Griffiths