Directed by Christine Jeffs
Written by Megan Holley
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Clift Collins Jr & Steve Zahn.
To speak of Sunshine Cleaning and frame it in light of the burgeoning repertoire of ‘dysfunctional family/people Indie Films’ is at once a disservice to the film at hand, but also a required disclaimer as it does honor and work within the constraints that this new ‘subgenre’ imposes: dysfunctional relationships, alternate models of ‘family,’ “growing up” storylines, quirky little kids, death, etc.
And yet, I couldn’t help but enjoy myself watching the film. This is, of course, due to the talent of its two leading ladies: Amy Adams plays Rose, a high school cheerleader who’s never outgrown the potential she had, but has yet to show anything for it other than an 8 year old boy, a house-cleaning job and an affair with a married cop; Emily Blunt plays Norah, Rose’s ‘little sister’ whose yet to find a footing in life and prefers instead to wander, linger and not take life too seriously. Both in their scenes together and in those where they’re allowed to shine individually I was captivated by their performances (Blunt’s scene at the train tracks and Adams’ scene in the restroom had me in tears, I’ll confess).
Other than that, the plot of the film – while a bit hokey – works just fine as a framing device for these two actresses, which is why when we’re off in Alan Arkin-land (reprising his Oscar winning role, basically) or following Oscar’s life in school I found myself wishing we’d go back and focus on the girls. In two words (borrowed from the boyfriend), this film is “endearingly morbid” and works quite well at that. B