DVD review: Sunshine cleaning

28 Jan

“From the producers of Little Miss Sunshine”, Sunshine Cleaning is a muddled, sometimes enjoyable attempt at an Indy feelgood comedy that never takes off the ground.

Desperate to pay her sons school tuition (a subplot that for unexplained reasons seems to disappear entirely) Rose Lorkowski employs the help of her sister to try to make it big in the “cut-throat” world of cleaning violent crime scenes. Not surprisingly there are a few hitches along the way and it’s not long before the job fades into the background and the two sisters attempts to clean up their messy lives become the focus of the drama.

Stars Alan Arkin and Amy Adams with director Christine Jeffs on the set of Overture Films' Sunshine Cleaning

Despite the heavy subject matter director Christine Jeffs tries to inject an upbeat feel and let the one liners come thick and fast. Themes, characters and subplots seem to buzz in and out with little explanation, development or resolution.  Sadly this feels less Coen brothers or Austin Powers and more like coming in halfway through an episode of Gilmore Girls. Attempts at black comedy come across as inappropriate rather than funny with many lines sounding like sound bites for the preview; “It’ll wash out” Rosie quips when they are confronted by a particularly gruesome crime scene.  Meanwhile soundtrack duties appear to have been left to a collection of Alanis Morrisette CD’s and the shuffle button.

On a brighter note, despite the often cliched script, Amy Adams and Emily Blunt give likeable performances as the two sisters and Alan Arkin repeats the role of the oddball grandfather he played in Little Miss Sunshine. The most telling part in this film comes about 75 minutes in when we find out about a family tragedy. Unfortunately by that stage its like listening to a colleague complain about a cold or talk about their weekend; no matter how hard you try, you just don’t care.

If you’re still interested in the subject watch Errol Morris’s innovative and thought provoking “First Person” TV series that features the story of real life crime scene cleaner Joan Dougherty instead.

Gram Morris

Extra Features: Not much to speak of, some justifiably deleted scenes.

—>Madman, Australian distributor of Sunshine Cleaning {link}

—>Official Website {link}

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