Academy AwardŽ Nominee Amy Adams, Golden GlobeŽ Winner Emily Blunt, and Academy Award WinnerŽAlan Arkin find an unexpected way to turn their lives around in this ?colorful, refreshingly quirky comic drama? (Leah Rozen, Peo... more »ple). Desperate to get her son into a better school, single mom Rose (Amy Adams) persuades her slacker sister Norah (Emily Blunt) to join her in the crime scene cleanup business to make some quick cash. With the help of their ill-fated salesman father (Alan Arkin), they climb the ranks in a very dirty job, finding themselves up to their elbows in murders, suicides, and? specialized situations. But underneath the dust and grime they also come to discover a true respect for one another, and create a brighter future for the entire Lorkowski family.« less
"Every review I've read has been quasi-negative but not being one to listen to critics, I took a chance. I was very pleasantly surprised. Depending on why you go to a movie, you may not like this because it is not escapism. It deals with real life issues and things most of us can relate to. I found the movie to be very refreshing and all the characters real to life. The main character is a single mom trying to raise a precocious son. She has to deal with a dead-end relationship and an aging father, an irresponsible sister and a job she hates. How she copes and what she does is more believable than most of the "chick flick" films out today. I think this is one of the better movies in a sea of fluff to spend time and money on. Amy Adams is wonderful and it is always refreshing to see Alan Arkin. Please don't dismiss this film because of iffy reviews. It is worth going to see."
LIFE'S EXPECTATIONS GONE WRONG
Mark Turner | 09/02/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There are mega movie blockbusters that beat down the doors of the local multiplex, pushing the competition out with promises of big bucks and taking over 10 of 18 screens at one shot. Sure, this means that the movie in question will be able to handle all comers the first weekend. But what about the little guy? What about the small independent movies that don't garner big budget advertising or multiple screens? These films play art houses and special theaters. Or they arrive on DVD with the chance to be found. SUNSHINE CLEANING is one such film.
We all have dreams of where we want to go with out lives. Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) was the head cheerleader, the girl most likely to succeed, the one in love with the big man on campus. Those dreams died and she moved on, becoming a single mother who works for a house cleaning service to make ends meet. She continues to see Mac (Steve Zahn), her knight in shining armor and now a homicide cop, but he's married with children and unlikely to leave.
When Rose's son Oscar (Jason Spevack) becomes more than the local school can handle, Rose must find a way to not only do better for herself but to be able to afford a private school for her son. During one of their liaisons, Mac suggest to her she start her own cleaning business cleaning crime scenes. The pay is great and she has time for her son.
After thinking it over, Rose takes on the task and recruits her sister Norah (Emily Blunt) to help. But Norah has problems of her own, mainly a rebellious streak that stems from Rose being overprotective and having to deal with a never present mother. But she goes with the flow and helps out Rose, making money for herself as well.
The pair start slowly with tips from Mac about which scenes to go to first. Stopping in a local warehouse cleaning supply store, Rose makes friends with the owner, a one armed shop keeper named Winston (Clifton Collins Jr.). Seeing the problems they are having, Winston helps her along the way with suggestions about cleaning supplies and classes she might want to take.
Their first job is one that almost makes them give in. A trailer whose owner died several days before being found, Rose and Norah do the job at hand. As they clean, Norah finds a fanny pack that belonged to the home's owner that contains a packet of pictures tied with a bow of a young girl from childhood to graduation, a treasure. It hits Norah that this woman held on to these pictures for a reason and rather than toss them out, she holds on to them and searches for the woman in the photos.
The business goes well at first and Rose seems to be getting along fine. But a chance encounter with an old school chum just before she left her old job leaves her feeling hollow and disappointed in the life she expected but that never came to be. Invited to the woman's baby shower, she makes a point of planning to attend to relive her glory days with the women she knew then.
Norah seeks out the young woman and finds her in a staling type way. They become friends without the woman knowing the real reason for her meeting Norah. The resolution to this friendship is unexpected and more real than one would think.
The chance to make it big comes with a call from State Farm Insurance who wants to hire Sunshine Cleaning for a job. Excited by the prospect, Rose shrugs off her responsibilities to go to the shower and sends Norah to do a job by herself. Face it, a happy ending is not waiting around the corner. Perhaps.
The movie does a great job of storytelling, not only moving along at a nice pace but giving us characters who feel real and who we can care about as it unfolds. Rose is a determined woman who wants the best out of life but for some reason just can't seem to reach the goals she sets for herself. Adams does a fantastic job as Rose, bringing home the despair and hope seen in the character from one moment to the next.
Emily Blunt does an outstanding job as well, offering a sister with problems that began years ago searching for the answers the questions she's not even quite sure she knows to ask. A history that involves the girl's mother and what became of her results in one of the most touching images towards the end of the film.
SUNSHINE CLEANING may not be everyone's cup of tea. It's low key, it feels like it's in the real world we want to escape while watching a movie, but at the same time it offers hope and a spark of life seen in few films. This may not be the biggest or most expensive film released this week, but it is one that has plenty of heart in its center and worth giving a watch. "
Bringing sunshine to the darkness...
Kerry O. Burns | 09/08/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A very enjoyable quirky film which is after alot more then quick easy laughs. This film gets pretty serious at times and what an enjoyable ride it is made easier by the stellar cast. Amy Adams as Rose and her sister Norah, Emily Blunt, tend to Rose's 7 year old son, Oscar and their own cleaning business they are starting. This is no ordinary cleaning business but a crime scene clean up after the bodies have been moved and evidence secured and all that remains are the blood and the remanants of the deceased's life. What I loved about this film is the humanity of the characters, real people, real problems and real situations that have you pulling for them even as you shake your head at their mistakes. Alan Arkin is a joy as the cranky, scheming father of Rose and Norah, he is at a place as an actor that he brings so much of what you expect from him as an actor while also bringing such subtle differences to all his characters that you never feel you're seeing the same character you might've seen in another movie. Amy Adams is a shining revelation of eternal optimism and she has you pulling for her as she tries win over her own demons. Emily Blunt and Jason Spevak as Oscar are wonderfully funny and real. There is a real honesty amidst some outrageously funny stuff that never panders or lectures and never cheats the audience. I only felt cheated at the end when the movie ended. I wasn't ready to leave this family behind and wanted to live with them a little longer. That is a good thing when a movie leaves you wanting more."
What love is, what love isn't
J. C Clark | Overland Park, KS United States | 10/15/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I cannot understand those who were bored by this film. I was entranced; good performances all around married to a well-developed plot with skillful writing yielded a totally satisfying experience. As one who did not much care for "Little Miss Sunshine", I was certainly not hoping for a repeat. And did not get it.
The guy at my Blockbuster store said "Oh, good movie. My wife and I watched it three times; we really liked it," when we checked it out. Three times may be a bit much, but it held us. The subplots that go nowhere (the blood bank gal, the problems in school) were, to me, perfect expressions of the fits and starts that life endlessly presents. Not everything gets tidied up; not everyone sees our attempted generosity as we do; not all stories have a satisfactory conclusion. Sometimes people are jerks, bad things happen, and we get stuck. One other pleasure was that the two people who seem to be experiencing the first sparks of interest do not hook up. How nice for a story to allow two lonely people to stay lonely, at least for now.
The other thing I truly liked about this film is that everywhere else Hollywood despises low paid labor and those who perform it. (In the movies that is; in real life, where stars are lining up defending illegal immigration so their lawns, pools, and bathrooms can be cared for at bargain rates, things are different.) But a maid and a small shop owner are treated respectfully. These are hard-working people trying, not terribly successfully, to make a go of things, and the film never laughs at them or insults them or condescends to them. Thank you.
And it wonderfully destroys some idiotic fantasies. Suicide is not glamorous and poetic, not heroic or brave; it is the ultimate act of self. You can not claim to love people when you splatter your brains across their floor and allow them to clean up the mess. That is absolute selfishness. It is not love. Love means working hard to help people, giving up something of value. Love is not motel sex. It is not sex at all; it can, and often is, the exact opposite. Love is not glorifying the old days, hoping they come back. Love is living in the now, doing what must be done, giving up what must be cast aside, and pulling together despite all the reasons there are to pull apart. This film shows that with tenderness and beauty. "
Moving and Memorable Movie
Camron Barth | 12/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love this movie! Amy Adams and Emily Blunt are outstanding! "Sunshine Cleaning" feels so real - from the experience of being a housekeeper to Tourette syndrome and more. It's deeply touching; it left me inspired, albeit with some heartache. The only thing I don't like is the language - the profanity is excessive and over-the-top, particularly from Alan Arkin's character. I think the language is the reason it's rated R, which is a shame because it'd be available to more people if it were rated PG-13. Other than that it's a sweet movie and I highly recommend it! "