Review

Sunshine Cleaning Review

By:
Mar 13, 2009 | 6:39am EDT

WHAT IT'S ABOUT?

Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) once led a charmed life a high-school cheerleading captain in love with the team quarterback. Then life took a spiral downhill and now after 20 years Rose is a single mom working as a maid. Her sister Norah (Emily Blunt) is a slacker still living at home with their dad (Alan Arkin) a failed salesman who never met a get-rich-quick-scheme he didn’t like. When Rose needs to get her son into a good school she convinces her n’er do-well sister to go into business with her cleaning up after crime scenes. In finding success in doing these dirty jobs Rose and Norah not only turn their professional lives around they discover things about themselves and each other they never dreamed possible.

WHO'S IN IT?

This terrifically quirky and entertaining character comedy is led by two-time Oscar-nominee Adams. Here she etches a very recognizable character -- the small-time girl who achieved greatness in school only to make some bad personal choices and flame out after graduation. Mustering all the self-esteem she can find Adams’ Rose shines brightly despite all the obstacles standing in her way. She and Blunt as Norah are flat-out wonderful together. Blunt plays the lazy sister who recoils at the thought of her sibling’s new money-making plan but becomes fascinated by the things people leave behind after they die. It’s a keenly observed character and Blunt is subtle perfection. As their father Arkin is homespun understanding and endearing. Standouts also include Steve Zahn as Rose’s one-time high school boyfriend and now married lover and Clifton Collins Jr. as his rival for Rose’s affections.

WHAT'S GOOD?

As her first produced screenplay newbie writer Megan Holley gets it all right taking a quirky news item she heard about crime cleaning businesses and turning it into a rich and revealing character study revolving around two siblings with small-town hopes and dreams. Every character no matter how little screen time is beautifully written and acted.

WHAT'S BAD?

The men in the film are so appealing and offbeat you wish there was more time devoted to them particularly the character played by Collins Jr. whose one arm handicap is never explained.

FAVORITE SCENE

Using every tip she ever learned from a self-help book Rose stares at herself in the mirror after taking a shower and gives herself a wonderfully optimistic bit of advice.

GO OUT AND GET POPCORN WHEN …

The opening scene begins and the guy goes into a store to buy a gun. It’s a bit jolting and sets this warm and engaging human drama off on the wrong note. Don’t worry it gets a LOT better from there.

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