‘Sunshine Cleaning’: washing away the pain | AspenTimes.com

‘Sunshine Cleaning’: washing away the pain

Tom Long
The Detroit News/AP
Aspen, CO Colorado
(Left to right.) Emily Blunt and Amy Adams star in Overture Films' Sunshine Cleaning.

Lifted by a trio of fine performances, “Sunshine Cleaning” thrives on the unexpected and revels in the low-key.

The premise ” two sisters go into business cleaning up messy crime scenes ” seems like the natural place to build a murder mystery. But the mysteries “Sunshine” is interested in are of the human variety, not criminal.

Yes, this is another tale of a modern semi-dysfunctional but essentially decent family ” and just as in “Little Miss Sunshine,” Alan Arkin plays the cantankerous grandpa.

But this film centers on those sisters. Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) spends her days cleaning houses and her nights sneaking off with her married boyfriend (Steve Zahn), a police detective. Rose’s sister Norah (Emily Blunt) can’t even keep a job waitressing and still lives with their dad. Rose herself has a sweetly off little boy (Jason Spevack) and vague dreams of getting her Realtor’s license someday.

But then her lover suggests she can pick up easy money cleaning up crime scenes, and suddenly she and Norah are in business, learning the ropes from a janitorial supplies shop owner (Clifton Collins Jr.).

Soon enough they are finding strange fulfillment in cleaning up the results of violence, finding a sort of purity in absolving lives gone wrong.

Writer Megan Holly and director Christine Jeffs go too far at times (no one should ever talk to God over a CB radio), but Adams, Blunt and the extraordinarily controlled Collins (“Capote”) bring so many shades to their characters that the film survives its lurches.

“Sunshine Cleaning” may not be without blemish, but is an odd delight nonetheless.

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