Author-extraordinaire Jacqueline Wilson's Dustbin Baby has been adapted for the screen with a wonderful cast giving touching performances in this tale about a girl who was left in a bin.
April Johnson is an angry 14-year-old, played with suitable teen angst by Dakota Blue Richards, who you may recognise as Lyra from another book-to-screen adaption, The Golden Compass. The eponymous April has moved from foster home to foster home following her disadvantaged start in life, and yearns after the mother she never knew.
After an argument on her birthday with her latest foster mother (Juliet Stevenson on fine form), April sets out to revisit the past to discover where she comes from.
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Juliet Stevenson is subtle and affecting as Marion, April's teacher who becomes her foster mother when she's 13. She's struggling to give April the perfect life that she wishes for her, and April is struggling to allow Marion in to her life and her heart.
It is a distressing story but ultimately uplifting, as Dakota says: "There are times when it is sad but April grows up a lot. She finds out who she is and that she is actually happy". Juliet, too, found the film highlighted the rewards of motherhood, saying:
"At the centre of the story, Marion finds out that she loves this girl. And that is an amazing liberation when you discover someone more important to you than you are. That is what is incredible about becoming a parent – you care about your child more than you care about yourself."
The young actresses who play April in her younger incarnations deserve a special mention for their unaffected and moving performances, and David Haig brings a loving heart to warm the cold sharp edges. Dustbin Baby is available to buy courtesy of ITV DVD now, and includes a Behind the Scenes documentary.