Jess (Charlotte Coleman) is the adopted daughter of an over-enthusiastic evangelist (Geraldine McEwan), whose views on life have been shaped by Bible classes and religious radio shows. When Jess grows up she meets Melanie and their close friendship turns to passion - something that her horrified mother and local pastor believe is the work of the Devil, and they set out to take drastic action to save Jess from the evil temptation. This adaptation of Jeanette Winterson's bestselling novel won three BAFTA awards, including Best Actress (McEwan) and Best Drama Series.
Jeanette Winterson's semi-autobiographical novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
transfers wonderfully to the screen in this BBC adaptation (with a screenplay by Winterson). Jess is the adopted daughter of evangelical Christians living in the northwest of England in the 1960s. Her mother wants Jess to be a missionary, but when she falls in love with Melanie, Jess begins to realise that there is more to life than church. When Jess' mother begins to suspect the girls of "unnatural passions" she tries to destroy their relationship with the help of Pastor Finch (Kenneth Cranham) and his congregation. But their efforts--including a terrifying attempt at exorcism--only push Jess further away. Jess eventually understands that the only way to survive is to escape, and she sets her sights on a place at Oxford.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is both a broad comedy and a moving coming-of-age story. Charlotte Coleman is perfect as the teenage Jess, attempting to reconcile her religious devotion and her adolescent passion, but the film belongs to Geraldine McEwan as Jess' mother. McEwan obviously relishes Winterson's script, and she creates a character both monstrous, ridiculous and surprisingly sympathetic. It's a difficult role to carry off, but McEwan succeeds. Her performance is the high-point of this award-winning, provocative film. --Simon Leake, Amazon.com