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Dustbin Baby [DVD]
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Drama based on the novel by Jacqueline Wilson. April (Dakota Blue Richards) is a young teenager who was abandoned in a dustbin when she was a newborn baby. Since that day April has endured a troubled childhood, moving from one foster family to another. When, on her 14th birthday, she has an argument with her latest guardian, Marion (Juliet Stevenson), April decides to go in search of her biological mother. Can April find her future path by retracing her past?
Dustbin Baby is a powerful family drama which tells the heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting story of teenager April (Dakota Blue Richards), who sets out to discover where she came from, and on the way discovers where she belongs. April was abandoned in a dustbin as a baby. Now on her 14th birthday, after a row, she walks out on her foster mother, Marion (Juliet Stevenson) determined to discover her past, remembering and revisiting the people who have shaped her life. As Marion searches frantically for her, their journeys take them on a course that will change their lives for ever.
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I was a lot older than the target audience when this was aired on TV (I was 17) but that didn't matter since I loved the book when I was a lot younger. The acting in this show is good and some of the events teared me up. I would definitely recommend it to anybody who is a fan of Jacqueline Wilson.
It succeeds both as a film and as an adaptation of a book, mostly due to the sensitive direction and the outstanding central performances.
Juliet Stevenson is as reliably watchable as ever, but the standout performance for me was Dakota Blue Richards as 14-year old April. I had been impressed with her in The Golden Compass (although not so much with the film itself), but she is utterly believable here and astonishingly accomplished considering her age. She's so good that in the several dramatic scenes she has with Juliet Stevenson, I found myself watching her rather than her much more experienced and famous colleague!
Although the film deals with potentially difficult issues, it does this in a restrained and subtle way and still succeeds in being a 'feel-good'experience.
To my mind, it's one of the few recent instances I can recall of the BBC making a thoroughly enjoyable drama for the whole family to sit down and watch together. I only wish that it had been publicised more widely, and hope that it gets a repeat showing this Christmas.
Buy it now - you won't regret it!
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