Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Steve Zahn, Clifton Collins Jr.
Director: Christine Jeffs
Writer(s): Megan Holley
Cinematography: John Toon
Original Score: Michael Penn
Running Time: 91 Mins.
It’s from the producers of Little Miss. Sunshine, it stars Alan Arkin, it’s an indie comedy, and it’s called SUNSHINE Cleaning. You would on thsi evidence be forgiven for thinking that Sunshine Cleaning is some kind of sequel to that Oscar nominated underdog, however the bulk of this film is very far removed from its partial namesake, so much so in fact that it very nearly betters that other Sunshine film altogether, nearly.
With a lead cast of two of Hollywoods biggest (and best) new actresses it really is a wonder that Sunshine Cleaning wasn’t picked up by a much bigger distributor, and marketed a little more keenly, instead it has been relegated to the doldrums of a very small scale release meaning that it’s one of many films that will be lost amongst the Summer behemoths, which is a great shame because, as is always the case, it’s a damn sight better than most of them.
Adams and Blunt are sisters Rose and Norah, chalk and cheese to boot with one a fun loving hippy and the other a single mum striving for the “perfect life” and, key to this, the “perfect partner”, seemingly this is not Mac (Zahn) whom she meets on a regular basis to sleep with in a mote,l away from his happy home life, hardly the confidence boost Rose needs at this point in her down at heel life. Norah lives at home with their eccentric father (Arkin, more on him later!) eeking out a wage waitressing and spending her free time getting high and watching TV.
So far so cliched, but when is a character not a cliche of some sort? Well, when the actor playing said character can elevate it beyond the cliche, so to have Adam’s and Blunt’s star talent is something of a coup, especially when the script is this sharply observant, digging a little deeper into the characters psyche than we may be used too, even in the Indie spectrum of comedy/drama’s. ragile through the death of their mother both girls are lost in some way, and through their plight end up working as a clean up crew following deaths. Not the most upbeat setup, and admittedly some of the scenes have very macabre undertones, especially when they are called on to clear out houses of the deceased persons belongings. It’s in touches like this that the humanity of the stars shines through.
Aside from the main plot runs Alan Arkin’s (now) typically kooky turn of being paired up with a young child (in this case Rose’ “cute as can be” son) driving around hawking prawns and popcorn to all and sundry, whilst learning valuable lessons on life and more pertinantly, death, its perfectly enjoyable to watch and works on its own merits, the thing is it feels all too much like a subplot ripped liberally from Little Miss Sunshine “2” rather than belonging here in this less eccentric and more heartlfelt film. It doesn’t tarnish the experience at all but simply feels disjointed and as a whole not quite as emotionally engaging.
Sunshine Cleaning has two of this generations best actressess and a fantastically nunaced script makes for a refreshing break in the Summer season, not the next Little Miss Sunshine, rather something altogether less quirky and more…real.