Monday, April 20, 2009

"Sunshine Cleaning"

Sorry that I have gotten behind on my reviews for Reel Inspiration. With organizing Reel Inspiration's successful directing workshop and critiquing a powerful script from one of the directors, I just haven't had the time. Now the Arizona International Film Fest is here... But I'm delighted to introduce a new reviewer, Robin Farmer, who is helping out with a long awaited review of "Sunshine Cleaning." I think you will enjoy her succinct style and her positive take on the theme.

Movie blessings!
Jana Segal

by guest reviewer Robin Farmer.

Sunshine Cleaning,” is a sweet story about the glories and grimness of personal shortcomings and family dysfunction. We all fail, but it’s our attitude that will determine if we repeat the experience or grow from it.

Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) and her sister, Norah, (Emily Blunt) are underachieving sisters who hope a new business cleaning up crime scenes will help them find their place in the world. Cleaning up murder scenes is a messy job but doing so provides the sisters an anchor in otherwise unstable lives.

Rose, a former high school cheerleader with self-esteem woes, works as a maid while caring for her son, the likely product of a dead-end relationship with her married high school love, Mac, (Steve Zahn). Norah, a stoner, still lives with her grumpy dad, Joe, (Alan Arkin) a get-rich schemer with responsibility issues of his own.

Mac, a police detective, gives Rose the idea to make more money by forming her biohazard business. She needs the cash to send her smart and troubled son to a private school. An inconsistent optimist, she calls her business “Sunshine Cleaning” because it restores order to places wrecked by the stench and stains of death.

One of the most memorable scenes has Adams explaining, and suddenly realizing, the power of what she does at a baby shower with former, clueless high school friends who live in gated communities.

Wonderfully acted by a strong ensemble cast, the story unfolds to reveal the reason for the tension and low-bar behavior between the siblings and their father in a way that feels organic.

Director Christine Jeffs
From the producers of the Sundance hit, “Little Miss Sunshine,” (and directed by Christine Jeffs) "Sunshine Cleaning," has the same quirky comedic tone just not in mega doses. The script, from first-time screenwriter Meg Holley, aptly examines family dynamics in a fresh, compelling manner full of emotional truth.

In learning how to clean up the dirty deaths of strangers, the sisters transform their troubled relationship and jump start a business that fuels a better life for the entire family.

From the acting, directing, writing and editing, this indie film delivers.

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