“Sunshine Cleaning” review


By Rebecca Ford

When I was in college, I went home one weekend to my parents’ house. My parents were away for the night, and my younger sister who was in high school at the time asked if she could have a few friends over. A few friends turned into a drunken high school party, where one kid threw up in the sink and clogged the disposal, and my sister passed out on her bedroom floor. Needless to say, I was left alone to clean up the mess till six in the morning.

I didn’t speak to my sister for a week after that. It was maybe the angriest I’ve ever been at her.

But that doesn’t matter because when it’s your sister, you get over it. No matter what, there’s this unspoken bond between two girls who lived through a childhood together.

That’s the bottom line with Sunshine Cleaning,” the new film starring Amy Adams andEmily Blunt. They play two grown-up sisters, struggling to make ends meet and overcome their mother’s suicide. When Rose (Adams) can’t pay for her son’s private school, she opens a crime scene cleaning company with her younger sister, Hannah (Blunt).

Much like my own sibling, Norah is young and rebellious. She’s tattooed, irreverent and lacks in direction. Her older sister, Rose, is the responsible one, who is raising a kid alone.

Sunshine Cleaning, brought to you by the producers of the lovable “Little Miss Sunshine” , has the same optimistic-in-the-face-of-sadness feel to it, finding the beauty in life—and death. It’s similar to the 2006 hit (Alan Arkin reappears, and the story is again based in Albuquerque), but not quite at the same high level of thoughtfulness.

Still, Sunshine is, well, a beam of sunlight in what’s been a dreary, sad movie season of late. Even while approaching a topic as sad as death, the film is able to reflect the beauty and promise in life and human kindness.

Death is one topic that really gets examined in a great way here. The sisters, still dealing with their mother’s suicide from when they were kids, see death in all forms, and—more importantly—the effect it has on the people left behind.

The chemistry between Adams, Blunt and Arkin is what makes this movie soar. Their comedic timing and expression sets off laughter at just the right time. All three, however, smoothly embody the sadness that comes with losing a loved one.

Because the acting is stellar, it assists in masking the fact that their characters are lacking in some development. Sure, we learn that Rose was a popular high school cheerleader who is sleeping with a married man and has some self-esteem issues now. But last time I checked, I didn’t like those types of girls in high school, and I’m damn glad that they peaked when they were mentally bullying around the less popular and parading down the halls in their cheerleading outfits. How are we supposed to root …

See the rest here.

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