Suicide may be painless, but in the world of black comedies, it’s the cleaning up afterwards that really hurts. After her hesitant Sylvia Plath biopic, director Christine Jeffs has latched on to a solid if unexceptional script by first-time writer Megan Holley, focusing on two sisters who set up a business to disinfect crime scenes in a New Mexico backwater.
Played by Enchanted’s Amy Adams, Rose Lorkowski is an ex-cheerleader and now single mother whose dismal domestic situation is not helped by looking out for her feckless sister Norah (Young Victoria’s Emily Blunt). Throw in Steve Zahn as Rose’s married lover Mac, and Alan Arkin playing the same kind of grouchy grandpa as in Little Miss Sunshine, and Sunshine Cleaning has performers perfectly qualified for a misfit comedy.
Where Jeffs and Holley mess up, however, is in the details; the bile and blood-soaked aftermath the sisters frequently have to clean up is simply too icky to generate laughs, while a subplot involving Norah’s lesbian attraction to the daughter of a suicide victim is poorly developed. Admirers of SherryBaby, Waitress and other small-town tragicomedies will want to take the time to salvage some well-tuned performances here; Adams shines in a blue-collar setting, playing off Blunt’s amusingly sullen posturing, and Arkin is reliable as ever.
Amy Adams and Emily Blunt play two sisters who stumble into the crime scene cleanup business, with disastrous results. Aiming to be a smart, quirky comedy with a hard edge, the film lacks the emotional sophistication it needed to reach the finish line, but it does offer a few good moments thanks to performance value. Alan Arkin and Steve Zahn co-star.
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin and Steve Zahn.
Rating: Two stars out of five
Contrived quirkiness can be as awkward and cringe-inducing as bad acting. It’s like watching a swimmer tread water with one arm or a figure skater land a triple toe-loop fanny first: Everything starts to look harder than it really should be. (more…)
It’s rare that we stumble upon an indie film that we really hate. Admit it: sometimes they’re just so eccentric that we either have to like indie films for their originality or we’re so awestricken by their philosophical depth that we’re somehow tricked into liking them. However, with “Sunshine Cleaning,” the realness expressed through the plot as well as the acting needs no mind games to win over its viewers.
Sisters Rose (Amy Adams) and Norah Lorkowski (Emily Blunt) find themselves unhappy, to say the least, still living in the small town they grew up in. Rose, the older of the two and former head cheerleader of her high school, lives the typical single mom life, working at a dead-end job, cleaning the homes of those more affluent than her in order to support her ever peculiar son, Oscar. (more…)
The movie around them has problems, but Amy Adams and Emily Blunt put on a first-class acting workshop in “Sunshine Cleaning.”
In Christine Jeffs’ dour indie dramedy, they play Rose and Norah Lorkowski, Albuquerque siblings who aren’t handling adulthood very well.
The oldest, Rose (Adams), works for a housecleaning service and struggles to keep a roof over herself and her young son, Oscar (Jason Spevack). The kid is just plain weird — he’s about to be kicked out of elementary school for licking his teacher’s leg. (more…)
IT’S A LITTLE hard at first imagining such vibrant actresses as Amy Adams and Emily Blunt playing loser sisters in the offbeat dramedy “Sunshine Cleaning,” but they have you believing in their characters even if the rest of the film is a stretch.
“Sunshine Cleaning,” directed by Christine Jeffs (“Sylvia”), begins with a bang: A suicide splatters himself all over a sporting-goods store. Mac (Steve Zahn), the Albuquerque, N.M., cop investigating, notices how much the cleaning company charges to tidy up and mentions it to Rose (Adams), his former high school sweetheart with whom he’s now having an affair. (more…)
Despite indelible performances as Anne Hathaway’s tormentor in “The Devil Wears Prada” and as Tom Hanks’ seductress/underwear model in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” Emily Blunt remains a household-name-in-the-making probably because she’s such a chameleon.
But the star, as they say, is on the rise: The London-born actress can now be seen as a savvy publicist in “The Great Buck Howard”; as Amy Adams’ lost-soul sister in “Sunshine Cleaning”; and, soon, as “The Young Victoria.” We recently spoke with the 26-year-old actress: (more…)
Am I the only one on the planet who liked “Little Miss Sunshine,” sort of, without believing a second of it? I never believed those nutty, single-trait characters belonged to the same fractured family. I didn’t believe the rousing feel-good finale. What I liked, I liked because of what the performers did to transcend their own material.
I prefer the equally modest ” Sunshine Cleaning,” again without believing a second of it. It shares with the other audience-friendly “Sunshine” film a key word in its title; a setting, at least in part (Albuquerque); a key supporting actor ( Alan Arkin as a crusty paternal figure); and a rather studied sense of quirk. Nonetheless, the performers get a lot going, and the ensemble’s very easy company. (more…)
Despite its perky title, ‘Sunshine Cleaning’ is much darker than its producers’ previous film, ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ as it ventures simply and realistically into suicide, adultery and loss. The film will be introduced to Turkish audiences at the 28th International Film Festival next month
It has become a genre all its own: the dysfunctional-family indie comedy, a staple of film festivals and art-house theaters alike.
Done wrong, and these movies can seem too self-consciously quirky (and by now, “quirky” feels like a word that was created especially to describe this kind of film). Done right, and you’ve got a “Little Miss Sunshine” or a “Juno” on your hands. (more…)
I’m thinking of a movie. Wait, don’t tell me, it’s on the tip of my tongue. It takes place in Albuquerque. There’s a beat-up old van, a lot of family dysfunction, a cute kid, a get-rich-quick scheme that doesn’t quite work out as planned. Alan Arkin is the grandpa. The title? Something about “Sunshine.”
No, not that one. “Little Miss Sunshine” came out in 2006. Why on earth would I be reviewing it now? I’m wondering that myself. A better title for the movie I am supposed to review — for the record, it’s “Sunshine Cleaning,” directed by Christine Jeffs from a script by Megan Holley — would be “Sundance Recycling,” since the picture is less a free-standing independent film than a scrap-metal robot built after a shopping spree at the Park City Indie Parts and Salvage Warehouse. (more…)
Two sisters start a biohazard-removal service. With Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin. Director: Christine Jeffs. (1:42) R: Sexuality, language, adult situations. At the Landmark Sunshine and Lincoln Square.
There’s an air of death and exhaustion around the characters in “Sunshine Cleaning,” but hang on — it’s not at all off-putting.
Though this well-observed, wry drama is determined to be quirky, its most endearing quality, like that of its heroines, is a willingness to wallow in foul moods and come out the other side.
Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) is a thirtyish former cheerleader shambling through life in Albuquerque as a cleaning woman. (more…)