Saturday, September 19, 2009

Under 250: Sunshine Cleaning

Goodness, gracious, we have gotten a little behind. Chalk that up to the fact that we're still getting off the ground and, well, school work has returned. We are busy people here at Love & Squalor, but that's no excuse. So, while they may be late, i'll try to give the run down of (at the very least) a bunch of newish DVD releases you may have been considering picking up.

The producers of Little Miss Sunshine attempt to duplicate their previous success using what someone must have considered a fail safe formula: Amy Adams + Alan Arkin in a movie with the word Sunshine in the title = certain success. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work. In theory, Sunshine Cleaning has all the hallmarks of an interesting story. Amy Adams plays Rose Lorkowski, a single mom who divides her time cleaning other people’s houses and having an affair with her former high school sweetheart (Steve Zahn). When it’s suggested there’s real money to be made in the exciting world of crime scene clean-up, Rose grabs her cynical sister Norah (Emily Blunt) and jumps head first into a blood-stained career. Blunt and Adams turn in solid enough performances as frustrated and emotionally fragile siblings, and as their curmudgeonly father Alan Arkin is (of course) a delight, yet their familial chemistry isn’t enough to save the film from its own lack of focus. Plainly put: none of the characters are strong enough to hold the film up on their own. The real interest here, and the only aspect that makes this standard family drama unique, lies in the business itself. The intricacies of the crime scenes, the ways in which these women enter someone’s life post-mortem, are not mined nearly enough to leave a mark. Instead, we’re given an all-too typical tale without rhyme or reason, acting alone can’t save a bland story.

3 out of 5.

Sunshine Cleaning, dir. Christine Jeffs, stars: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Steve Zahn. Rated R, Running Time: 91 min.

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