BBC TwoNewsnight Review
Page last updated at 14:59 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 15:59 UK

Newsnight Review: 15 May 2009

This week Kirsty and the panel will be giving their take on the directorial debut of actress Samantha Morton; a play about the murder of James Bulger; a novel by prize-winning author Anne Michael; and Angels & Demons, the latest film from the team behind the blockbuster The Da Vince Code.

FILM | The Unloved

The panel's verdict on The Unloved

Samantha Morton makes her directorial debut in this harrowing tale informed by her own childhood.

The Unloved tells the story of 11-year-old Lucy (played by Molly Windsor), who is placed in a children's home after being neglected by her parents. The care system into which she is placed however, turns out in many ways to be just as inadequate.

The tale has been in the making for many years, with Morton reportedly first considering the film when she was 16.

Kirsty Wark spoke to Samantha Morton

The twice Oscar-nominated actor spent her own childhood in and out of foster care and residential establishments in Nottingham.

What will the panel make of this film's depiction of neglected children, and can it help to raise awareness about the care system for children in this country?

The Unloved will be shown on Sunday 17 May 2009 at 9pm as part of Channel 4's Forgotten Children season.

THEATRE | Monsters

The panel's verdict on Monsters

A new play penned by a popular Swedish writer uses a mixture of verbatim theatre and scripted scenes to explore the murder by two children of toddler James Bulger.

Performed for the first time in the UK, the play attempts to deconstruct what happened to both the young James Bulger and his killers in 1993 using transcripts of the police investigations.

The work also examines the stories and myths that surrounded the case by questioning the nature of story-telling and methods of relaying the truth.

The play was written by Niklas Rådström, a Swedish writer, and won the inaugural Anglo-Swedish Literary Foundation Award 2008.

This production, directed by Christopher Haydon, hopes to move away from sensationalising the difficult subject matter to create an understanding of the motives and reactions to such a crime.

Monsters is at the Arcola Theatre, London until 30th May 2009.

LITERATURE | The Winter Vault

The panel give their verdict on Anne Michaels' new novel, The Winter Vault

Canadian writer Anne Michaels' debut novel Fugitive Pieces was a critically acclaimed international bestseller, winning several literary prizes including the 1997 Orange Prize.

The Winter Vault, Michaels' second novel, appears amid high expectations.

Several themes from Fugitive Pieces are continued in this book, as the central characters struggle to reconcile their personal stories with history. The book also tackles, with great urgency, the issue of human interference in the environment.

Michaels has published several verse collections and she says The Winter Vault was also written to be read aloud.

Will the panel feel the poetic ear for language serves the story well?

The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels is published by Bloomsbury.

FILM | Angels & Demons

The panel give their verdict on Angels and Demons

The Da Vinci Code, a thriller based around religious conspiracy theories, was called an "offence against God" by the Vatican, but brought millions of readers to author Dan Brown's work.

His quartet of books about the symbologist Robert Langdon now rank as the UK's top four bestselling adult paperback novels of all time.

The team behind the blockbuster film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code now take on another work in the series, Angels and Demons.

Vatican authorities refused to let the crew near their churches for filming, but have issued a surprisingly soft review of the new film.

Ron Howard directs Tom Hanks as Langdon, who this time must work with priest Ewan McGregor to prevent an antimatter bomb destroying the Vatican in a plot which pits science against religion.

Angels and Demons is on general release nationwide.

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