Sunday, April 19, 2009

Movie Review: Sunshine Cleaning

One may not be able to resist thinking that a movie with such a perky title, starring two female leads like Amy Adams (Enchanted) and Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) would be anything more than a "chick flick"? Sunshine Cleaning definitely proves to be so much more than it's "outward" appearance. This dramedy film starts with Rose (Adams), a single mom from Albuquerque, and her struggle to support her 7 year old son Oscar (Jason Spevack), all while trying to keep tabs on her slacker sister Norah (Blunt) who still lives with their aging yet witty father (Alan Arkin).

When Rose sees she needs to place Oscar in a more progressive school, she realizes her job as house cleaner is just not going to make that happen.
On the advice of her married, cop boyfriend Mac (Steve Zahn), Rose decides to embark on the lucrative, yet somewhat gruesome, career of cleaning up crime scenes with her sister. Both women struggle slightly and fumble (literally, at times) to find their rhythm in the new life's journey at first. One can't help notice that their work endeavors seems to mirror their need to move past previous setbacks and a family tragedy that happened to them as children but still affects them as adults.

It must be said that this movie stands strong due largely in part to Adams and Blunt. Though different not only in appearance but in acting styles, these actresses have such an amazing chemistry on screen that it's safe to say both own this film. Each plays her character with such depth and conviction, whether it's with the subtlest of expressions and eye contacts or in verbal fights stemmed in frustration and aggravation over their less than perfect lives. They make what would've been a lesser film into one that a viewer can not only connect with but embrace.

Sunshine Cleaning is put forth by the same producers that gave the world the indy favorite Little Miss Sunshine. Even with the obvious parallels, from the southwest setting to Arkin as the loving grandfather to a precocious child, Sunshine Cleaning stands separately from it's predecessor. It may have the obvious plot set ups and does leave a handful of unanswered questions in the end, but one will not walk away with a feeling of disappointment or movie deja vu. Sunshine Cleaning will deliver laughs, invoke sympathy and may even remind a movie-goer that things are still best earned and not expected even if it does involve a bit of gross and gore. And in this recent day and age, it's a message we can all benefit in remembering.

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