Sunshine Cleaning (15)
Friday 26 June 2009
Despite its title, Sunshine Cleaning rumbles with heavy storm clouds.
It's about two kinds of mess – the emotional fall-out that comes with being part of a family, and the literal fall-out from a crime scene (blood, biohazardous stuff) that someone has to clean up. It's a dirty job, and in small-town New Mexico former cheerleader Rose (Amy Adams) finds herself doing it. She needs the money – and what with a tricky seven-year-old son to look after, a cranky widower father (Alan Arkin) who loses money on get-rich-quick schemes, and a married cop (Steve Zahn) who's seeing her on the sly, she needs reserves of sunny patience, too. It doesn't help that her partner in grime – Sunshine Cleaning is the hopeful name they slap on the business – is her younger sister Norah (Emily Blunt), an underachiever who hides her disappointments beneath a brittle layer of sass.
Crime scene clean-up is a "growth industry" – or did they say gross industry? – but it may just be that the sisters are dealing with deeper psychological damage. The mournful blood-spattered scenes they encounter remind them of their own mother's death, which they hardly speak of. The restraint of Megan Holley's screenplay is admirable, particularly in a party scene where Rose meets up with her smugly married schoolfriends and feels obliged to explain how clean-up work requires more than just industrial fluids. There are people involved, too. "They've lost somebody, and we help. In some small way, we help..." It's a speech beautifully delivered by Adams, who brings out the decency in Rose even more winningly than she did with her role in Junebug. Blunt is a match for her as Norah, less sympathetic but as achingly human, the pain of being a screw-up perceptible in her snarky tone and her face's twitchy contours. Their truth-telling scene in a restaurant loo is terrific.
The New Zealand-born director Christine Jeffs does good work, too (as she did in her debut, Rain), managing a nifty balance between tragedy and farce. A high-spirited desperation is its keynote. The producers are the same who gave us Little Miss Sunshine, which would explain the familial dysfunction and the inclusion of Arkin as the dad. Does he get tired of playing this part? I hope not, because he does it better than just about anyone else. It's not on a par with Little Miss: there's some whimsical-tragical stuff about talking to the dead via CB radio, and the producers might want to think beyond using "Sunshine" in a title again. But I would have been sorry to miss this.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 2 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 3 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 4 Refugee crisis: Aylan's life was full of fear - in death, he is part of 'humanity washed ashore'
- 5 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
Hey Arnold! is coming back, and possibly Rugrats too
First Look at Bryan Cranston transformed into LBJ for HBO’s ‘All the Way’ film
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
Photographer captures the beauty and intensity of his girlfriend giving birth at home
Prog rock finally comes of age with launch of the first Official Progressive Chart
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 200,000 back our campaign
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up