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Bitter Balcony Goes Nice and Tidy With Sunshine Cleaning!


Sunshine Cleaning
Cleaning up after other people's messes takes on a whole new meaning in the drama-comedy “Sunshine Cleaning.” Rose (Amy Adams) is a 30-something single mom living paycheck-to-paycheck as a maid. Her sister Norah (Emily Blunt) fares even worse as a waitress still living with her dad Joe (Alan Arkin). For Rose, the bills are about to get tighter as she decides to take her son Oscar (Jason Spevack) to a private school after his constant misbehavin' has him in the dunce seat. Desperate for income, Rose resorts to her married lover and prior high-school boyfriend Mac (Steve Zahn) for some assistance. Mac, a local detective, hooks up his mistress with one of those odd jobs even Mike Rowe wouldn't touch: soaking and scrubbing blood stains from dead people's rooms.

Rose convinces her far-from-thrilled sister to join in cross those dreaded yellow lines. As the sisters wipe up the debris of the deceased, some of their own deep-seated wounds surface. Rose deals with her emotional and career shortcomings after a promising youth as her high-school's most popular girl, while Norah has unresolved issues over the memory of her dead mother. While coming to terms with their troubles, the sisters encounter offbeat personalities like a one-armed product supplier Winston (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Lynn, an uptight nurse with lesbian tendencies (Mary Lynn Rajskub of “24” fame).

“Sunshine Cleaning” follows the indie formula successfully, mixing 1 cup of family drama, 2 teaspoons of humor, a dash of quirkiness and a hint of Steve Zahn for good measure. (For instructions of how to make a Judd Apatow comedy, check out the recipe in our review of “Funny People”). This film, written by Megan Holley, follows the Syd Field rules of good scriptwriting, which is almost as impeccable as the sisters’ cleaning skills.

Rose's path to self-validation is carried well, finding resolutions with Mac, her family, and the acceptance of her career. Norah's absentee mother subplot finds a resolution that makes the story come full circle.

Director Christine Jeffs follows suit with an adequate effort, never stepping out of bounds of the story's earnest nature. It also helps that perky Amy Adams is the lead; she's has that America’s sweetheart charm without the annoying overindulgence of other actresses who have worn that crown. Alan Arkin has found post-retirement work as the street-smart papa.

“Sunshine Cleaning” is heartfelt – a vibe that so many indie movies dilute with their attempts to outdo Wes Anderson with over-saturated settings and inexplicably weird characters. But this film plays it way too safe and unlike its protagonists, never gets its hands dirty. Ultimately, "Sunshine Cleaning" is what a good cable movie should be, with all plots and subplots covered, characters finding closure, and a sweet, nicely done IFC film.



Official website:

Sunshine Cleaning


Directed by: Christine Jeffs
Written by: Megan Holley
Cast: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin

Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

Comments, rants and other stuffs below
sim deals only (not verified) on Sat, 03/27/2010 - 6:16pm

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