An uneven tone unleashes excellent performances It's rare to see a movie with believable dialogue and an odd plot. Usually, the writer will add more platitudes to the dialogue to dampen the oddness and make the story seem more familiar. (Superhero movies do this often.) There's certainly nothing ordinary about a single mother deciding to start a crime scene cleaning business--even when the economy is bad--but the desperation of Rose Lorkowski (brilliantly played by Amy Adams) and her childless-but-a-child-herself sister Norah (played by Emily Blunt) is so complete that it seems like a good idea. Adams excellent sense of pathos draws the audience in; her situation just sucks, and although she doesn't always make good decisions, she indeed suffers.
As great as Adams is in this film, Clifton Collins, Jr. stands out for me. He takes an essentially thin character (Winston) and makes him vibrant, full of ideas and feelings, even when he's given little to do and little to say. He does it with such subtlety that it's difficult to pinpoint what he's doing to make the character work. I haven't seen him in many films, and this seems a shame as he's quite talented.
I have no idea why Alan Arkin is in this film. He plays the same seemingly absent-minded crank as he does in Little Miss Sunshine only he's less funny here. The role should have been given to someone who would actually try and not phone it in with their own personality.
The tone of the film is a bit uneven. Is this a comedy, a drama, a mash of genres? The director didn't make that decision, and so we call the film "independent." But the excellent acting makes up for the film's few faults.Sunshine is Dark, Moody, Strange and Amazing I have to admit that, at first, I didn't expect to like this movie very much. In fact I expected it to be some kind of artsy chick flick. This movie is worth a watch for anyone that likes dark indy comedies or strange turn-of-event movies. Amy Adams is great as the lead in what seems like her most down to earth role I've seen so far. She is a good actress, but mostly I see her movies as genre redundant - (romantic comedies). This movie is anything but romantic, in fact it's life-liftingly tragic... if such a thing can be fathomed.
The movie mostly centers around Amy Adam's character as she struggle as a single mom. She is overwhelmed in life by a mentally fragile sister, weird young son, and get-rich-quick scheming father all in tow. Needless to say her money situation pushes her into the field of cleaning up crime scenes and other bio hazards. Each character is flawed by their past and throughout the movie you begin to feel them struggle against the inevitable. But in the end this movie does have a great message, wonderfully vivid characters, quotable one-liners, and lots of awkward moment laughs to break up the drama. The DVD cover mentions that it is made by the producers of Little Miss Sunshine - and yes, if you like that movie then this is definitely worth a chance.A "bloody" gem. Sunshine Cleaning starring Amy Adams and Emily Blunt is an interesting indie flick about two sisters learning to find themselves by "cleaning" up after the dead. Directed by Christine Jeffs (Sylvia) and co-starring Alan Arkin, Sunshine Cleaning was a pleasant surprise. Adams and Blunt are extraordinary in their roles, I love everything about this film - the premise, the acting, and the emotional ending. I highly recommend it and fantastic musical score by Michael Penn.Sunshine Cleaning 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.
A solid flick... I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I sat down to watch this film and am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised, although it did seem to be "Little Miss Sunshine"'s darker cousin.
Amy Adams stars as Rose, a single mother who opens up a cleaning business at the suggestion of her cop lover (Steve Zahn) and with the help of her troubled sister, Norah (Emily Blunt), in the hopes of being able to pay for private schooling for her gifted young son. Alan Arkin stars as the father of the sisters and can be considered to be in a continuing role from the one he played in "Little Miss Sunshine", but he is enjoyable nonetheless.
The cleaning business is unconventional in the sense that the sisters clean up after crime scenes, such as murders, accidents and suicides. If there's a bloody mess, they'll be there--gagging and sometimes puking, but they'll be there. The story line becomes a bit tired in the sense that the sisters learn the truly important aspects of life through the people they assist in their business, but you can dig in to these characters and relate to the issues they have gone through. Their mother died when they were very young, leaving Rose to care for Norah as their father was usually off trying to pitch his newest "get rich quick" products to suppliers and failing miserably, as we see him do in the film.
Norah develops an unlikely acquaintance through trying to do a good deed and ends up learning more about herself in the process. Clifton Collins Jr. (The Boondock Saints 2) also stars as the charming one-armed owner of the cleaning supplies store who ends up becoming a very good friend to Rose.
There are some humorous moments in this movie, but mostly is a drama and a pretty decent story. Some elements like the made-for-TV movie the girls keep trying to find on their TV screens seems a bit sappy and feels like it's been done before but all in all, this definitely makes for an enjoyable film about learning about oneself, triumphing over personal conflict and realizing what's truly important in life.