Oscar-nominated actress Samantha Morton makes her directorial debut for Channel 4 with The Unloved, a powerful single drama that gives an intimate child’s eye view of life in a children’s home.
The Unloved stars acclaimed actors Robert Carlyle and Susan Lynch alongside the two young leads – Molly Windsor as Lucy and Lauren Socha as Lauren – who were cast through a series of open auditions held across Nottingham schools, drama groups and at The Television Workshop (where Morton herself attended aged 12).
Samantha Morton says: “I am thrilled to be making my first film with Channel 4 who have constantly pushed boundaries and enabled people like myself to have a voice. I hope this film can help make a difference to those children that see it.”
Samantha Morton worked with acclaimed writer Tony Grisoni (Red Riding, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, In This World) to create the fictional script. Filming took place in Morton’s home town of Nottingham. The drama has come out of Channel 4’s first look development deal with Revolution Films and was green-lit by the Channel’s head of drama, Liza Marshall.
Marshall says: “We at Channel 4 are very excited to be supporting Sam in her first directorial venture. This is a story very close to her heart and her empathy and understanding of children in care should make for an exceptional film.”
The Synopsis of the film is as follows:
Lucy is 11 years old. She lives with her father. One day, not for the first time, he beats her. After the beating, Lucy lies at the foot of the stairs, and days and nights pass. She remembers receiving her golden Holy Communion book.
The next time she returns to school, Lucy asks to see her social worker, Jackie. Lucy is known to social services and has been in foster care before, but none of her foster parents have any placements available. Jackie takes her to a children’s home, Crop Row, where she is left with nothing save for the school uniform she is wearing.
Lucy is placed in a room with 16-year old Lauren who, appalled at having to share, is initially hostile to the younger girl. But a friendship begins to grow between the two girls.
The following day the two girls run away. Lauren is caught shoplifting from Boots and the police are called. The police take them back to Crop Row and Lucy is warned to stay away from Lauren.
Lucy discovers that Lauren is being abused by Ben, the manager of the children’s home, and so runs away. She attempts to go to her mother’s home, but there is no one in and so she spends the night walking the streets.
She returns to Crop Row and is taken shopping by her key worker. On her return Lucy has her first meeting with her social worker where she asks why she cannot stay with her mother. Days later she absconds again and goes to find her dad sitting alone in his local pub. He takes her back to his house and after he falls asleep on the sofa she returns to the home.
Back at Crop Row a Christmas party goes terribly wrong in front of Lucy and the other children. Lauren and Ben have a very public row and Ben humiliates Lauren. It is now clear to the other staff that Ben is sexually abusing Lauren and a violent confrontation ensues.
Lucy leaves the chaos of the home and once again goes in search of her mother. This time she finds her, and asks if she can stay with her. Her mother gives her the bus fare back to Crop Row and walks Lucy to the bus stop. As the bus pulls up her mother breaks down, embracing her daughter and sobbing.
Lucy gets on to the bus, which takes her back towards the care home and an uncertain future.