The Unloved (nc)

First shown on Channel 4 last year, this drama about an 11-year-old girl who ends up in a care home has the grit of lived experience.

That would be because its director, the actress Samantha Morton, was herself given up to care at a similar age, so she knows whereof she speaks. Lucy (Molly Windsor – extraordinary) is a quiet, clear-eyed girl who, having suffered the abuse and neglect of her parents (Robert Carlyle and Susan Lynch), is consigned to a chaotic care home where a tough older girl, named Lauren (Lauren Socha), offers a sort of friendship: she takes her on a shoplifting spree. Morton, framing every shot with tact and patience, poignantly evokes the burden of isolation and abandonment Lucy feels, and perhaps too the dread of a similar future to the sexually abused Lauren. A few of the more lyrical touches don't quite come off, but in general this has a visual and dramatic punch that does credit both to its young star and its first-time director.