Sunshine Cleaning Review

Sunshine Cleaning Review
Released: 11 Jun 2009

Cast: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Jason Spevack, Steve Zahn, Mary Lyn Rajskub, Clifton Collins Jr.
Director: Christine Jeffs
Screenplay: Megan Holley
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Rated: M Mature themes, violence, coarse language, sex scene, drug use and nudity
Running Time: 102 Minutes

Life's A Messy Business.

Once the high school cheerleading captain who dated the quarterback, Rose Lorkowski now finds herself a thirty something single mother working as a maid. Her sister Norah is still living at home with their dad Joe, a salesman with a lifelong history of ill-fated get rich quick schemes. Desperate to get her son into a better school, Rose persuades Norah to go into the crime scene clean-up business with her to make some quick cash. In no time, the girls are up to their elbows in murders, suicides and other... specialized situations. Directed by Christine Jeffs (Rain, Sylvia) this uplifting film is about an average family that finds the path to its dreams.

My Verdict:
Rose (Amy Adams) Lorkowski is a cleaner. She sees her job as a means to an end as she struggles to maintain her mental health alongside being a single mother to her challenging son Oscar (Jason Spevack) and her relationship with his father, the now-married-to-someone-else police detective, Mac (Steve Zahn). Rose uses her perpetually erratic sister Norah (Emily Blunt) as a child-minder, along with her father Joe (Alan Arkin) who struggles to survive himself with his routinely failing get-rich-quick schemes. It is Mac who suggests Rose could make some serious money cleaning up after crime scenes and deaths in order for her to send Oscar to a private school.

As the central character, Amy Adams has the necessary energy and intensity to successfully carry the role as Rose. Having to deal with the leftovers from some gruesome deaths, she forges ahead which does lend itself to some black moments with Norah. Rose has many issues to face, including facing up to the reality of her childhood, her reunion with some high school classmates and cheerleading friends, her relationship with Mac, her role as a single mother, sister and daughter and the challenge of combining all these elements. It all sounds daunting but somehow Rose manages with even when faced with total financial ruin.

Emily Blunt is naturally convincing as Norah who is still yet to find her niche in life and seems happy to just cynically blunder along. The sisters reveal a heart-breaking connection that explains their bond to each other and to their father as their work takes them on an emotional journey. It also allows for Norah to develop her own sub-plot with the estranged daughter of a client but somehow this is taken to a certain level and then suddenly dropped as if it were extending the running time too long - pity. Alan Arkin walks through the role of the unconventional father/grandfather so easily, Jason Spevack is wonderfully unpretentious as Oscar and Clifton Collins Jr. is sensitively inspiring as the one-armed cleaning supplies employee Winston.

From the makers of Little Miss Sunshine, there are many similarities between the two, from the title, Alan Arkin's father role, issues of sudden death and the many darkly humorous moments. Certainly, if you enjoyed Little Miss Sunshine, Sunshine Cleaning is more of a similar ilk. Filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this setting creates a certain desolation and harshness that is interspersed with positive situations to offer hope to the characters. It is refreshing in its raw and humorous approach to some very common issues facing many and the cast complete the clean-up with their natural approach to the humour.

Rating : ****

Christina Bruce