Sunshine Cleaning (Jeffs, 2009)


Bryant Frazer’s review sums up this film brilliantly, yet I can’t help but hold it in higher regard than he does. Call it a sentimental streak I didn’t know I had. Despite being unfairly marketed as this year’s Little Miss Sunshine (which automatically sent up a red flag for me), Sunshine Cleaning uncovers some hefty themes – parental failure, suicide, and guilt – and for all it’s conventional whimsey and Indie quirkiness still manages to make quite an emotional impact.

Much of the film’s success has to do with Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, convincingly playing grown sisters at odds who start up a crime scene cleanup business only to find their relationship is far more fractured than they thought. Each suffers from a past trauma in very different ways, their conflict masking a place of deep childhood repression that makes the film’s light and airing surface incredibly heartbreaking. Sunshine Cleaning also attempts to bridge a commentary of class struggle with identity, but this dynamic seems too complex for the material and the film often shrugs off the difficult questions in favor of simple revelations. Whether or not you buy the scenario, it’s hard not to enjoy the wonderful interplay between actor-stars willing to infuse their characters with honest to goodness pain and anguish. It makes the sunny moments that much more authentic.

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