Movie Review for Sunshine Cleaning (2009)

(click poster to purchase poster)

Sunshine Cleaning (2009) [R]
W.I.P. Scale™ Rating: $11.00

| Released on: 3/20/2009 | Running Time: 102 minutes |
| official web site | | preview trailer | |coverage of premiere |
| soundtrackNorman Greenbaum - Sunshine Cleaning (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) | | spoiler || 2cOrNot2c |

Directed by: Christine Jeffs (Sylvia)
Written by: Megan Holley (debut)
Unsung Member of the Crew: Sound Mixer – Lori Dovi

Featured Cast: (where you might remember him/her from)
Amy Adams (Charlie Wilson's War) • Emily Blunt (Charlie Wilson's War) • Alan Arkin (Rendition) • Jason Spevack (Hollywoodland) • Steve Zahn (Strange Wilderness) • Mary Lynn Rajskub (Little Miss Sunshine) • Clifton Collins Jr. (Babel) • Paul Dooley (Hairspray) • Kevin Chapman (Unknown) • Eric Christian Olsen (Fired Up!)

From the producers of Little Miss Sunshine comes another eclectic little film bearing the name of ‘sunshine’ perhaps, however with a bit less sun. It’s Sunshine Cleaning directed by Christine Jeffs from a screenplay by Megan Holley and featuring the extraordinary talents of Alan Arkin, Emily Blunt, and Amy Adams. The film begins with a bang and ends with a whimper (see spoiler for more details on both of those events). Held together nearly entirely by the character of Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams), a single mother and former head cheerleader who finds how quickly her glory years have fallen behind her, the film explores the folds of a throw blanket tossed over a body at a crime scene for the meaning of life and death with an emphasis on suicide. Rose and her highly dysfunctional sister, Norah (Emily Blunt) lead economically challenge-filled lives; and, due to unforeseen circumstances, find themselves picking up a new line of work – crime scene cleaners – to raise money to help pay the tuition for private school for Rose’s young son, Oscar (Jason Spevack). Oscar is a highly intelligent young and impressionable kid, and both his aunt and his grandfather, Joe (Alan Arkin), both of whom have their own particular perspective on life, hold a heavy influence over him. It is his very impressionability that forces Rose to pull him from school and seek the private alternative. And this, in turn, forces her to need a job which pays more money leading her adulterous lover, Mac (Steve Zahn), to recommend she start the crime scene cleaning business, Sunshine Cleaning. to make a lot of extra money. Shortly after getting into the business, Rose finds tremendous financial success and regains her self-confidence lost over the course of her post high school downhill spiral. She brings Norah in on the business when Norah loses her job at a diner. Helping Rose learn the ropes of her new trade, and rounding out the cast, is helpful cleaning supply store manager, Winston (Clifton Collins Jr.). For more plot details and the ending, see the spoiler.

... bears the same moniker of ‘sunshine’ as Little Miss Sunshine, however with a bit less sun.
Sunshine Cleaners won rave reviews at Sundance, but a careful after film reflection will cause most to wonder why. The film actually suffers a bit from trying to turn something practically ordinary into something extraordinary and failing pretty badly. Indeed the film succumbs wildly to it’s own obtuse and self-indulgent lens and undeveloped characters. Far too much of the plot has to be ascertained by inference. The largest gap comes in the fact that we never really know why these main characters are where they are at the start of the film. Rose is having an affair with her high school sweetheart? Norah has nothing going for her at all. Grandpa Joe is just moving kind of slow, but this isn’t “Petticoat Junction”. The film is barely funny and needlessly overly dramatic. Worst of all, just when it seems the film might start to perk up from its moribund outlook on lower class life in America, a major event resets everything back to where it was only worse. In no way is this the cast’s fault. They did what was there and then some. The performances were the only bright spots in the film. This was a joint fault on that of the director and the writer and the director more so if she cut even one minute from the script. The characters and scenario is interesting enough, but no enough mileage can be gleaned from these transparent characters living their transparent lives in ways to force one to wish they’d suddenly fog up a bit. Honestly, the film causes you to hope there’s relevance in it somewhere, but in the end, it’s just not that fulfilling.

No comments: