Sunshine Cleaning * * * *

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Director: Christine Jeffs.
Screenplay: Megan Holley.
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Steve Zahn, Jason Spevack, Clifton Collins Jr, Mary Lynn Rasjkub, Eric Christian Olsen, Paul Dooley, Kevin Chapman, Judith Jones.

From the producers of “Little Miss Sunshine” we are told. Unfortunately, a film like this is reduced to riding on the success of another to gain any attention for itself. What a shame, as this well crafted ‘dramady’ has quality all it’s own.

In Albuquerque, N.M., struggling single mum Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) starts a business mopping up crime scenes. She has no experience in this highly specialized field so she recruits her stoner sister Norah (Emily Blunt) to help out and both siblings become emotionally involved in the lives and deaths of the messily deceased, while rediscovering their self-esteem and creating a bond between them that they have longed for as sisters.

I can’t say that the tag of a film being ‘produced’ by the same people actually means anything. As far as I’m aware producers don’t add anything creatively to a film. Personally I’m drawn to films that have interesting storylines or people involved that I’ve enjoyed before, and in this case, it’s Amy Adams. Having seen “Junebug” and “The Fighter” of late, I’ve been really impressed by her superb performances which have lead me onto the path of this unanticipated treat. It’s an adept comedy/drama with beautifully understated performances. The balance of dark comedy with family drama is skillfully handled by director Christine Jeffs, from an impressive debut script by Megan Holley. Minus a couple more oddballs family members, this has much in common with the previous producers film “Little Miss Sunshine”. It has the same well drawn characters (Alan Arkin’s eccentric grandpa included, only this time heroine free), the same mix of humour and pathos and the same upbeat tone in downbeat scenarios.

After steadily building a reputation for herself, this is another choice role for the marvellous Amy Adams, who is without doubt, the actress to watch these days. A wonderfully structured little film that achieves a balance in the realism of it’s characters in slightly surreal situations.
An unexpected delight.

Mark Walker

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