film review: Sunshine Cleaning

The two Lorkowski sisters have a traumatic past and cope in their own ways: Rose [Amy Adams] is a workaholic; and Norah [Emily Blunt] is an unreliable slacker. Once a popular high school cheerleader (cannot believe that this still holds so much cache even today), Rose struggles to stay above water as a single mom with dreams of better things for her son and herself. In reality, someone as cheery and energetic as Rose [particularly as vibrantly played by Adams] should and would be running the entire cleaning company or have her real estate license by now. Norah is moody and brooding and kinda punk with the obligatory smudged eyeliner and funky second-hand wardrobe. She sleeps too late to get into work on time and half-asses her shifts as a waitress. The sisters fight but of course truly care for each other.

On somewhat of a whim and a lot of frustration, the sisters embark on an unusual enterprise: biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up. This forces them to handle the aftermath of suicide, body decomposition, as well as bodily fluids and other unexpected messes for which they are completely untrained and unprepared for but face with that little bit of hope and can-do spirit to potentially get them out of the slump that is their life. It is fairly predictable [and borrow elements from many other well-loved indie films] but the cast is great [including Alan Arkin as the girl’s eccentric, cranky father]. Sunshine Cleaning is that typical indie film that combines just the right amount of quirkiness with darkness, laughs and touching moments. What makes it worth the trip to the theater? Amy Adams and Emily Blunt make a fabulous acting pair.


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