The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Noteworthy acting makes up for identity issues in Sunshine Cleaning

Sunshine Cleaning is a bit of an odd film, but having said that right off the bat is not necessarily a bad thing.

With minimal research prior to viewing, the film seems to be a comedy dabbling in some spots of drama. Considering the film’s producers were the ones behind Little Miss Sunshine, it comes as no surprise that Sunshine Cleaning follows a similar path.

But behind a first-time writer, it sways back and forth in wanting to be a comedy or a drama.

The lives of Rose (Amy Adams) and her sister Norah (Emily Blunt) have seen almost nothing but drama. Rose works for a cleaning service, left alone to raise her slightly-troubled son Oscar while sneaking around with a married cop (Steve Zahn).

Norah is the not-quite-fully-matured type. Living at home with their dad (Alan Arkin), she blows off her job, does what she wants and plays the role of Oscar’s hip aunt.

But after being fired from her job, she has no other option than to hop on board Rose’s idea to start a crime scene clean-up service (Sunshine Cleaning) for some quick money.

Of course, their experiences set up the comedic aspects well enough: two dramatically different sisters with no clue of what they are doing trying to clean up crime scenes.

But the girls’ troubles soon start to rise. It is quickly introduced that Norah (more so than Rose) has suppressed issues with their mother, while Rose deals with her awkward romance.

The main issue with the film, as mentioned, is its identity issues. Does it want to primarily be a comedy? Or does it want to be drama sprinkled with some comedy? There is never one clear answer, perhaps stemming from this being the writer’s first script (first released script, at least).

Just when the film starts to go on a funny streak, something pulls it right back down to a saddened level, and vice versa.
Its sadness might put some viewers off. Sunshine Cleaning has its share of sad moments but perhaps there are too many for some. It certainly adds depth to the film, but it might be over doing it.

Regardless, the film is boosted by superb acting. Amy Adams does a great job playing the role of a weathered single-mother struggling to stay happy. Better yet, she’s convincing. But she is easily overshadowed by Emily Blunt, who does an even better job with an oddball character.

She struggles with more psychological issues than Rose and Blunt nails essentially every situation she’s in. Even in some of the more drab situations, she does a solid job making them a little more interesting.

The only knock? Adams and Blunt’s natural beauty stick out a bit much against the background of this indie film. But that’s not really a bad thing, is it?

While the film isn’t great, it succeeds in telling an interesting story about sisters dealing with their struggles.

Nothing is ever really left open-ended, even if some sub-storylines are quickly wrapped up. Overall, it’s a solid film with some identity issues that is worth checking out.

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