Sunshine Cleaning - DVD Review

'the two leads are perfect, they look like sisters, they act like sisters and they're different yet similar enough to believe that they actually are sisters'

Rose (Amy Adams) and Norah (Emily Blunt) Lorkowski are sisters with problems. One is a single mum scraping by, cleaning the houses of the now-rich friends she went to school with while the other exists on a hand-to-mouth basis while still living in their elderly father's (Alan Arkin) house. That is until the man Rose is having an affair with (Steve Zahn) comes up with the idea of the girls marketing themselves as crime scene cleaners for lucrative profits.

If that setup sounds a bit of a preposterous, knee-jerk, 'how can we get these girls to bond idea' then it's because it is and the film knows it. The idea is floated all of fifteen minutes into the film and I'm pretty sure Zahn's character actually says 'Hey, I know... you girls should be crime scene clean up experts' or words to that effect. It's a rather clunky way of getting our two key, troubled, characters into a bit of a mess where there's a chance of a blackly comic giggle and some tearfully emotive recompensing.

Because director Christine Jeffs knows this too however, she doesn't waste any time fawning over the brilliance of it and the film is all the better for it. Rose and Norah are quickly set up and moving from crime scene to crime scene collecting their dues, sensible but put-upon Rose constantly dragging troubled and lost Norah up by the shoelaces. As a double act, the two leads are perfect, they look like sisters, they act like sisters and they're different yet similar enough to believe that they actually are sisters. That isn't to say their performances are perfect. Both girls veer widely from one extreme to the other, apparently unaware that there is middle-ground. Adam's Rose looks vulnerable one minute and resolutely strong the next whilst Blunt's Norah is even worse, zany and scatty in an instant where before she was all calm shock and awe. It's not distracting or off putting but despite best efforts it never feels quite like either actor got their role just right.

Jeffs on the other hand, directing her first feature since the little seen Sylvia in 2003, gets her decisions note perfect. Firstly, she wisely keeps the characters to a minimum, not introducing us to Rose's grown-up classmates eight at a time because she knows we don't care and they don't matter. The love interests of both girls too are handled excellently, mainly open-ended yet engaging and thought provoking. Zahn as Rose's high-school sweetheart is a great character, well played by an actor who normally doesn't show as much as he does here and Rose and he show perfectly what happens when the jocks and the cheerleaders grow up, reduced as they are to meeting in a seedy motel.

It's not perfect by a long shot but there is enough here to engage and the tight running time of around ninety minutes is another perfect decision by Jeffs. Blunt and Adams are one of the most engaging and believable double acts to be seen on screen for a while and they ensure that we care what happens to the Lorkowski family, father Alan Arkin and Rose's son (Jason Spevack) included. An entertaining and worthwhile effort that proves there is life yet in the genre of uplifting, family-centered, drama.

Look Further...

'a healing experience that never feels as though it is forcing its cleansing on the audience or itself' - Black Sheep Reviews, 3*

No comments:

Post a Comment