Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sunshine Cleaning - Life Can Be A Messy Business

This is a very daring film that deals with a very sensitive issue of what happens behind the scenes when someone dies. The darker side of life that only a certain group of people ever have to see.

It is never easy to deal with a loved one dying, but even harder still is when they depart in a way where they leave a horrific mess. It is tragic and disturbing, and well.... messy! And it takes a very dedicated type of person to take on the job of cleaning up the after math.

Right off the bat I applaud the director Christine Jeffs, for taking on this daring story about two sisters, who at the ends of their proverbial ropes are trying to find a way to make ends meet. And oddly enough decide to start their own Bio-hazard Removal Business. The comedic aspects that make the story charming, is that two sisters have no clue what is involved in the process and sort of bungle their way through the learning process.

Amy Adams plays the older sister, Rose Lorkowski who is a single mom, and who at an early age was responsible for taking care of the house and her younger sister Norah, played by Emily Blunt, when their mom commits suicide. Amy does a remarkable job with this role. Rose must struggle with her own inadequacies as a single mom and provider, and deal with her dead beat family.

Adams has been known in the past for her roles as portraying a sweet innocent person, who is usually helpless and mousy in demeanor. The perfect helpless heroine. And she does it very well here despite the more edgier and more unseemly landscape to the story. And yet manages to keep every thing together, with a little help here and there.

Emily Blunt is well suited to play emotionally unbalanced characters who you can't help but want to love and care for, and she delivers it here in her usual effortless style. As Norah, she adds a certain comic relief and at the same time a certain raw vulnerability to the relationship between her and Rose.

The relationship between the two sister is strained by Rose's need to be responsible and successful at anything, and Norah's need to be a free spirit who can't face the tedious side to being a functioning responsible adult. Adding to the dysfunctionalness of the family dynamics is their father played by Alan Arkin who is a romantic loser who dabbles in hustling everything from popcorn snacks to van loads of fresh shrimp.

So needless to say the theads that hold them together as a unit are very thread bare. And together they barely make a functioning unit, and yet through the adversity they seem to find strength in one another. And the occasional unexpected hand from Winston played by Clifton Collins Jr. ( Star Trek, Last Castle) , the one armed chemical clean up shop owner, who helps the two sisters learn the ropes in a strictly regulated and competitive field or Bio-hazard Removal.

The under belly to this all is that death sometimes brings out the best and worst of us, and each person reacts to it differently. But inescapably there is a beautiful and ugly side to life and death.

Christine Jeffs did a great job finding the humor in bleak situations, and managed to respectfully walk the line without crossing it! A very poignant look at death and family relationships. Definitely worthy of a look or two!

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