Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunshine Cleaning (2008)

Perhaps it was the title with a hint of cheer. The trailer contained a spark of what appeared to be comedy. But, while there are funny moments, this is a movie about people who’s dreams have been squashed. They are in a quagmire of sadness, trying to find a way out. None of the characters has given up; they struggle but are actively chasing something, especially single mom, Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams). Things have changed for her. A popular cheerleader in high school, she’s now holding down several jobs just to keep her and her young son, Oscar (Jason Spevack), afloat. She’s also the glue keeping her family together. She took over the matriarch role when her mother died young. Her dad Joe (Alan Arkin) moves from one failed money-making scheme to the next. Oscar keeps getting in trouble at school until they offer her an ultimatum: either get Oscar on medication or find him a new school. She yanks him out and moves on an idea sparked by her lover, Mac (Steve Zahn), Oscar’s father. A cop, he tells her that the folks who clean up bloody crime scenes (biohazard removal andcleaning) get paid very very well. Rose calls her new biz Sunshine Cleaning and recruits slacker sister Norah (Emily Blunt). The women find they have a lot to learn in their new venture.

Sunshine Cleaning plays like an indie with a big budget. Amy Adams delivers. Emily Blunt’s Norah is awesome. Adams and Blunt work well opposite each other. Steve Zahn’s (always a guilty pleasure) role is small. He’s fathered Rose’s child, but he’s married to and has a family with another woman and doesn’t acknowledge Oscar. Oscar is a good character. I especially liked his interactions with sweet Winston (Clifton Collins Jr). Not a movie if you can’t stand gloom, but the ending is hopeful without getting maudlin-drenched.

Director: Christine Jeffs

Country: US

Genre: Drama

Run time: 90 minutes

Scale: 4

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