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Sunshine Cleaning In Review

Updated on August 3, 2022
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LA is a creative writer from the greater Boston area of Massachusetts.

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Definitely Worth A Watch

When money is tight, you tend to pay more attention to where you spend it. For many people, going to the movies nowadays is a rare occurrence. You have to really want to go see something in order to justify spending ten dollars on admission. That having been said, I saw Sunshine Cleaning Friday night and it was worth every penny.

Set in modern-day America, the movie allows us to peek into the complicated lives of the Lorkowski family. Thirty-something Rose (Amy Adams) is a single parent who cleans houses for a living. The slightly younger Norah (Emily Blunt) is a party girl who can’t hold down a job for long. Their father, Joe (Alan Arkin), is a combination of his children in that he is a single father (His wife committed suicide when the girls were little.) who does his best to support his children, developing one “get rich quick” scheme after another. When Rose is encouraged to enroll her trouble-making son, Oscar (Jason Spevack), in a “special” program, she decides to open a crime scene cleaning service as it will provide her with enough money to send him to a private school. Enlisting the help of Norah, they blindly enter the business, their lives becoming messier with each house they clean.

Though not a perfect movie (There are a couple of scenes that make you scratch your head, wondering why they remained in.), it is pretty close to it. To begin with, the writer (Megan Holley) wrote a pretty awesome script. Her plot is unique with well-rounded characters that you can relate to. The director (Christine Jeffs) clearly understood the script and what she could get from her actors. Unlike with many films where you wonder if the director and writer had fought over whether or not either one’s vision of the story was being tampered with, you get the sense that Jeffs respected the script and Holley had faith in her interpreter. On the acting side, Blunt and Adams had fantastic chemistry. Not only do they share certain identical physical features, but they share mannerisms too. They are believable sisters. Separately, we see two award worthy performances. They both play characters that are stuck in the past, too worn down and hurt to look towards the future. Adams’s character was one half of a popular high school couple, a cheerleader in love with her sports star. Now, she cleans houses and conducts an affair with her married high school boyfriend. She is a town joke. Blunt’s character has never done anything of merit. She parties hard and is unable to form relationships with people outside of her family. Of the two, her performance is the stronger.

On a side note, as it’s mentioned in every commercial and ad for the movie, I feel obligated to say that Sunshine Cleaning is from the creators of Little Miss Sunshine. Like this movie, the 2006 award winning film deals with youth that is disturbed by the selfish decisions of family members. It also deals with unfulfilled lives and the lengths the characters go to disprove this. Both movies feature Alan Arkin, and I would argue that he plays the same character in each. Based on these movies alone, I’m not a fan of his.

Sunshine Cleaning speaks to every person who has or has known someone who has caved in and shut down after a personal tragedy. For these people, life ceases for them, and, once they peek their head out to see what’s going on around them, they are shocked to find that life has continued without them and that they have a lot of catching up to do. As the sisters lost their mother at such a young age, you get the feeling that they are, in some ways, still children especially Norah. They know they must be adults now, but how does one be a successful adult when their parents were such poor examples? How can you raise a child when, internally, you are just a scared one yourself? In short, this story is an example of what happens when you leave your life on autopilot for too long. With no one at the wheel, it’s not surprising that you didn’t end up where you thought you would.

Obviously, I recommend this movie. If you can’t afford to pay to see it in the theater, be sure to rent a copy in a couple of months. I’m not saying it’ll change your life, but it certainly will open your eyes.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2009 L A Walsh


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