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 creating a brighter future for the entire Lorkowski family.
Crime scene clean up must be getting popular as this is the second movie in recent times about such 'unglamorous job'. While Samuel L Jackson's Cleaner (available in DVD) mix it with murder and conspiracy at the clean up job, Sunshine Cleaning build the dysfunctional family drama around it.
The Lorkowski sisters (Rose and Norah)are stuck in a career pit and both of them have their respective issues to deal with. Rose is raising her son as a single mother and is also having affairs with her high school sweetheart (who also happens to be married to their friend). Norah is unable to hold on to a job and seems to need Rose's constant supervision and help. Their dad (Joe) is involved with get rich schemes that are not getting him anywhere and their moma's suicide had haunted them since young. In an unexpected twist of fate, Rose's lover recommended the lucrative (but unpopular) job of crime scene clean up.
Besides raking in money, the crime scene clean up job also opened unexpected opportunity for the sisters to get in touch with their respective deeply rooted issues that the characters are probably unaware of themselves. Rose gets an unexpected renewal of satisfaction, confidence and expectation in life. Norah got in touch with the Lynn, a lady who hasn't been in contact with her mom and wasn't aware of her death.
Even though this movie is from the producer of Little Miss Sunshine, incidentally starring Alan Arkin who won his first Academy Awards for Best Supporting Male with Little Miss Sunshine and even with a Sunshine in it's title, Sunshine Cleaning is simply nowhere as captivating as the Oscar nominated Best Picture.
Sunshine Cleaning has it's moments but ultimately the various subplots didn't come together to make it an engaging picture. The patchwork between various story arcs and characters lacks the strong linkage as Little Miss Sunshine. The story moves from one quirky story arc to another without the focus of building to a main final resolution.
The ending also felt abrupt and issues were conveniently tied up with no real resolution. Several subplots in this movie were not properly resolved and questions were left hanging around. Such as what happens to Norah and Lynn in the end? Was there more than what was presented or was the unsatisfying end really the end? Perhaps this indie film would like the viewers to ponder about the various aspects of the movie after the movie has ended but personally, the build up and linkage weren't well constructed for such aftermath's intellectual deliberation and in the end, it just ended without any real satisfaction.
This indie flick has received an adequate presentation of Audio and Visual in this dvd format. Dialogues are clear enough for the viewers to delve into their quirky world of dysfunctional family drama.
Review by Richard Lim Jr
Posted on 10 December 2009