Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sunshine Cleaning

Sunshine Cleaning is a charming little film about two sisters, and was written and directed by two women, Christine Jeffs and Megan Holley. Although they are both relatively inexperienced in their respective facilities, they added a much needed "women's touch" to this film, which is probably an accurate look at the bond of sisterhood, touchingly displayed between Amy Adams and Emily Blunt.

Amy Adams' character, Rose, is a single mom and cleaning lady; once the popular high school cheerleader, now cleaning up after some of her old class-mates and their perfect little families. When she discovers one of her new clients is in fact one of these old classmates, she lies about the fact that she's actually just received her real estate license and that the cleaning lady gig is short-term. This event peaks her desires to finally make a change, which she does, if only a horizontal shift into the world of crime-scene cleanup. This came from the suggestion of her high school sweetheart and long-time lover, Mac (Steve Zahn), who is a police detective, married to another former class-mate. She also employs her sister Norah (Blunt) in this venture, who is living with their father (Alan Arkin) and constantly moving from job to dead end job, searching for meaning in her life, especially affected by the lack of a mother growing up. Although Norah is the regular babysitter during Rose's regular late night rendezvous with Mac, she is anything but a responsible person which leads to an event that causes much strife between these sisters and finally a scene of sisterly bonding and tearful reconciliation.

This film is filled supporting characters that are pretty well written, namely Steve Zahn as Mac, the cheating husband who will never leave his family to be with Rose, Alan Arkin as Joe, the entrepreneurial minded dad who obviously suffered from not having his wife all those years, Mary Lynn Rajskub as Lynn, a women who Norah tries to befriend in the hope of sharing some common bond that she thinks they have, and Clifton Collins, Jr. as the one armed cleaning supply store owner Winston, who becomes a stable friend to Rose and her imaginative son Oscar. Not to sound cliché, but the characters are fleshed out and each compliments the story well. My only criticism is that some scenes seemed to be a bit melodramatic and overly sentimental, especially the later scene in the bathroom between Rose and Norah. However, there were also scenes, such as the last between Rose and Mac, that were very subtle and real.

Sunshine Cleaning is an enjoyable film with good writing and believable performances by most involved, but especially Amy Adams, who has been spectacular in recent films such as Enchanted, Doubt, and Junebug, the latter two for which she received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. I was looking forward to this film since I first saw the trailer, and I was not disappointed. I especially recommend this film as a date movie, or girls night out, as I believe that female audience members specifically will appreciate the story and performances by these fine actresses, especially when great female lead roles are still too few and far between.

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