Movie Review – Sunshine Cleaning

sunshine cleaningSunshine Cleaning is the story of Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams), a cash strapped single mother who comes up with a plan to start her own crime scene bio-hazard removal business in order to pay for her troubled son’s private tuition. It’s another tale of modern family dysfunction from Christine Jeffs  (the woman who brought us Little Miss Sunshine) and whilst this movie may not quite have the charm that movie did, it does feature some outstanding performances by a relatable and likeable cast.

Amy Adams is brilliant in the lead role, playing Rose with the right mix of sweetness and positivity, yet always with a hint of melancholy just beneath the surface. The single mum who is having an affair with a married man, and is doing her best to keep faith in herself despite the growing realization that all the hopes and dreams she had as a successful and popular high school cheerleader will never come to fruition. Firmly entrenched in the mundane doldrums of low paid, pride humbling work and yet still with a flicker of hope that things can turn around.

Emily Blunt also turns in a solid effort as Norah, Rose’s depressed, screw up sister – the irresponsible yin to Rose’s duty bound yang, and Alan Arkin adds some much needed comic relief as the family patriarch who is always working on the next big idea to find a way to pay the bills. Each of these characters have their own problems to face. They are filled with flaws, self doubt and loathing – and yet, just like in life, it is those qualities that make them believable and likeable.

I quite liked the understated sub-plot of the growing attraction between Rose and Winston, the one armed cleaning supplies merchant, but I thought the quasi romance between Norah and Lynn was a bit forced and ill-defined. They also never took advantage of a real opportunity to deliver some great insight via the nature of their work – the crime scene clean up angle is a fantastic hook, and whilst they touched on their capacity to interact with people at profound and important times of their lives, it’s not a subject matter they ever really explored (outside of some hand holding of some poor old woman who’s husband had just committed suicide).

The pacing can be a bit slow at times – I know I had to bite back the urge to shout out “hurry the fuck up!!” at the screen at one point (the kind of behavior which would have been frowned upon by the majority of cinema attendees on this particular evening I think), and at other times they seemed to be trying way too hard to come off as quirky (look – now the grandfather is trying to sell shrimp to restaurants! Haha!).

Sunshine Cleaning attempts to blend so many different elements together (this is a kind of character study with elements of comedy, drama and romance) that it ends with the movie lacking a cohesive identity. As a drama it falls a bit short. As a comedy, well, it just isn’t that funny. And whilst the film probably doesn’t quite live up to its intriguing premise, it is redeemed by some great performances from its lead actresses.

Rating – 6/10

Random Quote – (How did she die?) It was a sorta do-it-yourself thing.

Random Actor You’ll Recognise From Somewhere Else; Clifton Collins Jr (Tigerland, Traffic, Capote) plays Winston, the cleaning supplies merchant who guides Amy Adams through her first faltering steps in the industry.

Previous Movie Review – Terminator Salvation


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2 Responses to “Movie Review – Sunshine Cleaning”

  1. Cello Says:

    I want to see this now!

  2. Movie Review – The Hangover « Cinestuff Says:

    […] Previous Movie Review – Sunshine Cleaning […]

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