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  Publicity Stills of
"Sunshine Cleaning"
(Courtesy of GV)

Director: Christine Jeffs
Cast: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Steve Zahn, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Clifton Collins Jr., Jason Spevack
RunTime: 1 hr 31 mins
Released By: Festive Films & GV
Rating: NC-16
Official Website: http://www.sunshinecleaning-themovie.com/

Opening Day: 9 July 2009


Once the high school cheerleading captain who dated the quarterback, Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) now finds herself a thirty-something single mother as a maid. Her sister Norah, (Emily Blunt), is still living at home with heir dad Joe (Alan Arkin), a salesman with a lifelong history of ill-fated get rich quick schemes.  

Desperate to get her son into a better school, Rose persuades Norah to go into the crime scene clean-up business with her to make some quick cash. In no time, the girls are up to their elbows in murders, suicides and other…specialized situations. As they climb the ranks in a very dirty job, the sisters find new respect for one another and the closeness they have always craved finally blossoms. By building their own improbable business, Rose and Norah open the door to the joys and challenges of being there for one another—no matter what—while discovering personal healing in the most unexpected way.

Movie Review:

These few months haven’t been the best of times for this reviewer’s career. Sure, you get the usual gripes about having a shitty job, not being appreciated and recognized for the tremendous amount of effort and hours you put in, not getting the justified pay to go along with your certification, not getting the job satisfaction and understanding colleagues – the list can go on and on, and the whining can go on and on. After having heard all these complaints, this reviewer watched this film directed by Christine Jeffs (Sylvia), and as he walked out of the theatre, he began to feel thankful that he still gets to sit at a properly furnished desk and use the computer to surf in the Internet, unlike the two poor girls in this somewhat quirky dramedy.

You see, Rose Lorkowski is a single mother now cleaning houses as a living, and if that’s not sad enough, you’d be surprised to hear that she was once a popular cheerleader. No thanks to a married police officer she is having an affair with, she takes up a new job being a crime scene cleaner. Yes, these people clean up the mess and gore after a murder or suicide takes place. What’s family bonding if you don’t get your family members involved in this exciting new job? Her younger sister Norah is roped into this rather lucrative business and along the way, sisterhood is formed, and supporting characters like an one armed store owner, a uniquely awkward son and a loving but grumpy father come into the picture, making this 91 minute affair a joy to watch.

Kudos to the two female leads Amy Adams and Emily Blunt to make this strange job look fun. While we are sure any sane mortal won’t be in their shoes, the whole idea of cleaning up blood and insides is actually quite a quirky one. After her enchanting performance as a singing princess and a noteworthy portrayal as a young nun, Adams slips into the role of a single mother comfortably, and has the audience empathizing with the mess that’s happening in her life. Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, The Young Victoria) puts on thick eye shadow to achieve that gothic look and is aptly cast as the confused sister who is searching for that goal in life. Alan Arkin (Oscar Best Supporting Actor for Little Miss Sunshine) fills the shoes of the wrinkly father with his assured acting, while child actor Jason Spevack (Fever Pitch, Hollywoodland) plays the son who, err, has a problem of licking things, with the required cuteness.

While the job featured in this Sundance Film Festival makes you sit up and notice, viewers should not be expecting much plot twists or dramatic developments (leave those to the self important summer blockbusters instead) – what you’d be getting is a nice touch on life and its little eccentricities, not too important for you to take notice, but poignant enough for you to reflect on your own priorities and needs. Credit for this feel good touch goes to Megan Holley’s spirited script, which complements the cast’s offbeat performances very well.

If you spot certain elements similar to Little Miss Sunshine, another critic darling, we don’t blame you – other than the word “Sunshine” and Alan Arkin’s engaging performance, you can also watch out for a small van which takes centrestage in this dramedy which reminds you, life isn’t that bad if you look on the brighter side of things.

Movie Rating:

(Great performances and a heartfelt story make this movie a breeze to watch)

Review by John Li


. Doubt (2008)

. Enchanted (2007)

. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

. The Devil Wears Prada (2007)

. Dan In Real Life (2007)

. My Summer Of Love (2004)

. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day DVD (2008)

. King of California DVD (2007)




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