7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Sunshine Cleaning (DVD)
When Rose (Amy Adams) needs to make money to put her son Oscar (Jason Spevack) into a private school when he keeps getting in trouble at his regular school, she turns to her unreliable sister Norah (Emily Blunt) to help her start a bio-hazard removal/ cleaning business. Even knowing that part of their job is to clean up after dead bodies, they still don't anticipate the job being as difficult as it is. From Norah trying to find the daughter of a suicide to Rose dealing with the personal issues of being a single mom and having an affair with a married cop, the sisters deal with life and a job that's out of the ordinary.
Christine Jeffs (Sylvia) and first time screenwriter Megan Holley came up with the idea for Sunshine Cleaning from the story of two women from Seattle they heard on a National Public Radio "All Things Considered" segment. In real life the women are actually best friends who own a biohazard removal/ cleaning service, but naturally with all adaptations things are changed to better move along the story, or to help the audience to identify with the plight of the main characters.
By choosing a pair of regular women to go into a job of this nature, the filmmakers have done a great job of making a movie that has a hint of originality. Also, by choosing a profession of this nature, the movie is also able to deal with elements of life and death, moving on and dealing with the darkness in our past. The movie effectively communicates it's messages while never being overbearing in it's way of dealing with them.
The acting in this movie is great as would be expected from this cast of characters. Twice Oscar nominated Amy Adams (Junebug, Doubt) does a great job as the more stable sister who can't let go of her past. Oscar winner Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) returns to familiar territory as the patriarch who is always trying new business ventures to try and help his family out, internally showing signs of inadequacy having raised his daughters as a single father. The real winner in the cast is the up and coming Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, The Young Victoria) as the unstable daughter who can't get over elements of her past that seemingly tear at the fabric of her being.
I really liked Sunshine Cleaning, but I kept getting the feeling that the filmmakers were trying to exert their independence in this indie film by being a lot like other films. Don't get me wrong, homages are the highest form of flattery and some of my favorite filmmakers make great living by making full films based on homages. The problem comes when watching the entire film makes you think of one film in particular in structure and in characterizations. Also following the indie model means that the characters often times have quirks that don't really further the characterization, but are just there to exert the filmmaker's passion to be non-mainstream.
I do highly recommend the movie, and intend to add the film to my collection. I will admit that the indie-isms have a tendency to frustrate me at times, but that doesn't mean that you'll feel the same way when you watch this film. If you like movies like Little Miss Sunshine, you'll enjoy this movie.