Nothing like a good indie film to remind me why I like movies. An outstanding cast, an original premise, and a strong script made Sunshine Cleaning, a comedy-drama, well worth the ticket price.
It stars Amy Adams (who I loved as the charismatic Princess Giselle in Enchanted) and Emily Blunt (who had a major role in The Devil Wears Prada) as sisters who’ve fallen on hard times. Rose (Adams) is a single mother of a young boy who gets kicked out of school after school. Oscar (played by Jason Spevack who I recognized as the young Jimmy Fallon character in Fever Pitch) isn’t a bad kid, but he just gets bored and causes trouble. Rose wants to put Oscar in private school, but doesn’t make enough money as a maid to afford it. Meanwhile, Norah (Blunt) loses her job. A timely job opportunity presents itself through Norah’s lover (played by the cleanest-cut Steve Zahn I’ve ever seen). During one of their clandestine hotel stays he mentions that crime scene cleaners make a lot of money cleaning up the mess after murders and suicides. Rose and Norah join forces and start Sunshine Cleaning.
There are a few spoilers to follow, this is a movie that’s a little bit difficult to review without revealing a few things. 🙂
With a lot of help from their father (Alan Arkin) and Winston, the softspoken one-armed owner of a cleaning supply store, they become professionals, learn about each other and about themselves (it sounds corny but it’s true). They’re surprised to find that they actually like the business. Every house they go to is different, yet the same. Different in the particulars, but each family has gone through a tragic death and they feel good that they can help in even such a small way.
Norah tracks down the daughter of a suicide they’d cleaned up after, befriending her and finally coming to terms with the death of her own mother as a child. Amy Adams develops the beginnings of a romantic relationship with Winston.
I like to see movies that didn’t come straight from a Hollywood mold, and this is one of those. A one-armed love interest, the lead females scrubbing blood off walls with toothbrushes, and a CB radio that connects to heaven. There’s a lot to love in this movie, and it would be worth paying to see it again (the true sign of a good movie).