New on DVD: Sunshine Cleaning

New on DVD: Sunshine Cleaning

This is definitely a context for family relations that has not been seen before. The new perspective makes the film more interesting, but the general circumstances have been seen before. Rose (Amy Adams) is a former high school cheerleader and single mother trying to make ends meet as a maid. She’s also still secretly seeing […]


This is definitely a context for family relations that has not been seen before. The new perspective makes the film more interesting, but the general circumstances have been seen before.

Rose (Amy Adams) is a former high school cheerleader and single mother trying to make ends meet as a maid. She’s also still secretly seeing her married high school sweetheart. Rose’s sister, Norah (Emily Blunt), is a free spirit that has trouble keeping a job. Both in need of a more profitable occupation, the sisters start a crime scene cleanup company. Rose finally begins to feel like her life is improving, but then everything she’s built goes up in smoke. Meanwhile, their widowed father (Alan Arkin) is constantly devising schemes to make quick cash and making promises to Rose’s son he may not be able to keep.

The film’s centre is Rose; almost everything that occurs is in some relation to her. She is ambitious, but also feels stuck and wishes she could return to her high school status. Her relationship with Norah is strained as she took on a parental role when they were both very young. Their father is somewhat eccentric but means well and loves his family.

One of the most interesting elements of the plot is the details one learns about the business of crime scene cleanup. This is a very effective choice to move the narrative forward and creates some interesting situations for the characters. In addition, such an odd career choice changes the dynamic between the characters and other people that may be less open minded.

The sisterly connection between Adams and Blunt is quite believable. Adams has often played the sweet young woman with big dreams, but here the drama forces her to put a little more thoughtfulness behind eyes that are trying really hard to twinkle. Blunt has a fascinating ability to embody her characters, breathing life into their highest and lowest moments. Arkin has done wonderfully of late as the caring but odd father, at least matching his performance Little Miss Sunshine. Clifton Collins Jr. is very recognizable though you may have difficulty remembering in what you saw him. Here, he delivers a touching performance as a very nice guy that unexpectedly enters Rose’s life.

The special features include: audio commentary with writer Megan Holley and producer Glenn Williamson; and a featurette with a real-life crime scene cleanup duo titled “A Fresh Look at a Dirty Business.”