Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunshine Cleaning

I saw the previews for Sunshine Cleaning at the local independent theater that I like to visit. I intended to catch this one at the theater…it looked dark and quirky…two elements I seem to like enjoy in movies. I ended up renting this film and watching last night. The film was dark, funny and definitely quirky. It was also realistic, examining relationships through good times and bad.

Sunshine Cleaning examines the life of a former cheerleader (Rose Lorkowski, played by Amy Adams) who must have appeared to have everything…as head cheerleader and main squeeze to the Captain of the football team, Mac (Steve Zahn). Rose didn’t end up with what she expected out of life. She spends her days cleaning houses and her nights sleeping with Mac (now a Police investigator) who married Heather (Amy Redford) instead of Rose. Rose gets little gratification and appears ready for some changes. Mac suggests Rose get into Bio-Hazard cleaning in order to cash in on a lucrative opportunity.

When Rose’s son Oscar (Jason Spevack) gets called to the principal’s office (yet again), Rose realizes she needs to find a better job so she can afford a private school for the gifted but bored boy. Using Mac’s contacts, Rose starts up her own cleaning business with the help of her slacker sister, Norah (Emily Blunt). The two underbid experienced contractors in order to build their business. It is a gruesome affair, cleaning up after suicides and accidents. Yet it seems morbidly rewarding in different ways for the duo. Together, they begin building a business while Rose tries to get her personal affairs on track, as well. Yet Rose seems to be possessed by what her former classmates think about her and gets her priorities just backwards enough to jeopardize everything she has worked for. Does Sunshine Cleaning end up rewarding viewers for hanging in during the good times and bad? It’s an independent film, so you have to watch to find out if the ending zigs or zags.

Sunshine Cleaning, written by Megan Holley had a beautifully presented script with characters that matter. The characters carry this story about hardship and heartache. By making the characters imperfect, Holley makes them real. The struggles of a family broken by suicide and never fully recovered runs as an undercurrent, while pulling back the veil on the damaged emotions and flawed relationships of the family and their interaction with other people. The realistic and well constructed personalities and relationships layered over a rewarding, imaginative and dark story-line make for a tale that held my interest. I found the dialogue to be fresh enough and the interaction of the characters to be vividly credible. Although predictable at times, the plot moved at a good pace and rewarded me for my time.

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