Someone’s Daughter, Someone’s Son (2024, dir. Lorna Tucker)

by | Feb 16, 2024

Certificate: 15

Running Time: 87 mins

UK Distributor: Dartmouth Films

UK Release Date: 16 February 2024

WHO’S IN SOMEONE’S DAUGHTER, SOMEONE’S SON?

Lorna Tucker, Earl Charlton, John Bird

WHO’S BEHIND THE CAMERA?

Lorna Tucker (director), Claire Lewis (producer), Robin Schlochtermeier (composer), TBA (cinematographer), David Potter (editor)

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Filmmaker Lorna Tucker explores the UK’s ongoing homeless crisis…

WHAT ARE MY THOUGHTS ON SOMEONE’S DAUGHTER, SOMEONE’S SON?

This review for Someone’s Daughter, Someone’s Son has been conducted in partnership with Housing Technology, the UK’s leading information powerhouse for the housing sector – read to the end for more on the company, and their mission to address the concerns raised in this film.

You don’t need someone like me to tell you the world kind of sucks right now. War and genocide are both rampant across Europe and the Middle East, the stability of Western democracy is wobblier than ever, climate change is reaching an irreversible threshold, movie studio executives are shelving completed films for easy tax breaks, and those are only some of the miserable headlines circulating right now. It’s easy to counter that with how, despite everything, we’re all still fortunate to have loved ones close by and a roof over our heads, but as filmmaker Lorna Tucker’s vital documentary Someone’s Daughter, Someone’s Son reminds us all, an alarming percentage of people don’t even have those to fall back on.

Among the 30,000+ people throughout the UK who are reported to be homeless and sleeping rough on the streets, Tucker’s film gives just a handful of them a platform to reveal their stories, their struggles, and their ultimate survival within unimaginable conditions – including, in a later moving reveal, Tucker herself. However, it is enough to give audiences a clearer picture of the genuine hardships that homeless people often have to endure, and most importantly lend them the opportunity to let their voices be heard, which shout to the world that they are more than just the perceived stereotype of a homeless person.

Throughout the film, we follow various people who are or previously had been sleeping rough, many of whom had run away to escape abusive marriages and families, suffer from severe mental health issues, or had become heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol in order to cope with grief or abuse. Some, like Earl Charlton in the north-east of England, were fortunate enough to find salvation in a role as a support worker at a homeless hub (which has, quite sadly, since closed due to lack of funding), but many others still have to endure physical and sexual abuse whilst on the streets, with so-called shelters being the last place that any of them would want to be, for how unsafe and drug-addled many tend to be (it’s oft repeated how many will go into a shelter clean as a whistle, and then come out a full-blown addict).

Then, there’s the director herself, who relays her own story during regular interludes: as a teenager, she ran away from home, wound up on the streets of London, developed a heroin addiction, and could have succumbed to an early fate had it not been for the kindness and support of a vendor for The Big Issue. It is the co-founder of that homeless-helping publication, John Bird, who takes on a substantial role in Tucker’s film, as he goes up and down across the country, and even to the House of Lords (of which he is a lifelong peer), to help various people in similar situations as the filmmaker, who ultimately provides a number of valuable steps that must be taken in order to eliminate the growing homeless crisis once and for all.

Rather than indulge in endless misery by providing sob story after sob story for the sake of sentiment, Tucker digs far deeper into the souls and humanity of her various subjects by just letting them be their authentic selves, as well as adjusting the storytelling for them rather than the other way around. One person who speaks in a heavy regional accent is given subtitles so that audiences can better understand his mumblings, while the number of homeless women interviewed on-camera are noticeably limited, to reflect how many of them need to hide themselves from greater risk of abuse by passers-by. The camera simply listens to them speak their truths, no matter how dark and upsetting they may be, and does not try to manipulate the narratives that they have lived through for forced tears. These are, after all, real people who have been through things that many of us cannot even imagine, and the film successfully rolls out that fact with raw interviews where some start to break down whilst recounting the few moments of kindness they were shown during their time on the streets, in moments entirely free of schmaltz and corniness.

In addition to giving the homeless a chance to speak on their own terms, Tucker also explores the vital figures within society who are trying to do whatever they can to help them, and who eventually lay out exactly what needs to be done in order for that help to come about. Alongside Bird, Tucker interviews the CEOs and campaigners of various homeless charities and facilities, who explain that the key to solving homelessness is far simpler and more straightforward than any MP or Downing Street occupant would have you believe. It’s honestly quite staggering how so much of it can be solved through uncomplicated methods, and even more so that society in its current form might not be able to commit to it just because it would most likely mean an extremely small rise in taxes. Even still, Tucker conveys the simplicity of the solution by, once again, laying out the facts and stakes without resorting to cynical appeals towards the audience’s emotions in order to convince them. It comes from a place of honesty, empathy, and resounding passion for the noble cause, which makes all the difference for a film that, under more sinister intentions, could have been harmful right-appealing propaganda.

Thankfully, Someone’s Daughter, Someone’s Son is not that, and if it is propaganda then it is necessary propaganda, because it highlights a real human rights issue that we are so quick to ignore because we’re so wrapped up in our cushier lives. What this film does so movingly is simply give a face to the issue, as well as a beating heart that’s free of cloying, manipulative sentiment and full of hope and humanity. As a result, Tucker has achieved an effective call to arms for our fellow human beings, because if we can’t look after our fellow people, then what chance do the rest of us have in this world?

SO, TO SUM UP…

Someone’s Daughter, Someone’s Son is a moving documentary that humanises the UK’s ongoing homeless crisis, under filmmaker Lorna Tucker who bravely recalls her own experiences of sleeping rough alongside many equally upsetting but essential stories, all while effectively conveying exactly what needs to be done in order to fix it.

Four of of five stars

This review was produced in collaboration with Housing Technology, one of the main backers and financiers for this film, and whose 15+ years of innovative contributions to the UK housing sector deserve your full attention and support.

Housing Technology is the UK’s leading information powerhouse for the housing sector, dedicated to driving innovation and improvement in social housing. Founded by George Grant (one of the executive producers on this film), they are at the heart of technology and housing, offering a platform where industry leaders share insights, foster technological advancements, and devise solutions. Through their influential magazine, in-depth guides, and pivotal annual conferences, they equip housing professionals with the tools and knowledge to enhance living standards, streamline operations, and address homelessness, ultimately transforming houses into homes and neighbourhoods into communities.

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