"It's an enjoyable film, even if one doesn't feel wholly satisfying come its conclusion"
Amy Adams is the flavour of the moment - she's been a Disney Princess (Enchanted), a nun (Doubt) and even Amelia Earheart (Night At The Museum 2), so she's had plenty of mainstream success. Sunshine Cleaning is a little off the beaten track, a quirky and eccentric little gem which follows in the footsteps of last year's indie successes Juno and Little Miss Sunshine and sets the bar high for this summer's indie films.
Adams stars as Rose Lorkowski, a single mother struggling to scrape enough money together working as a cleaner to send her son to private school. Her lover persuades her there might be more lucrative opportunities in the crime scene cleanup business, so she dons a facemask and rubber gloves and attempts to start a company aided by her irresponsible sister Norah (Emily Blunt).
The film avoids the trap of giving its protagonist a weird job, in place of real characterisation, which a number of indie films fall into. The undercurrent of black humour keeps the film fresh and bubbly, despite dealing with fairly heavyweight subjects such as loss, responsibility and the family's shared tragic past.
Mix in sub-plots which involve Rose's confliction as a mistress for a local police officer, the touching grandfather-grandson relationship between the family's eccentric patriarch (Alan Arkin on gruff autopilot) and Rose's young son Oscar(Jason Spevack), the kindness of a one-armed ponytailed shopkeeper and Norah's burgeoning relationship with a victim's former relative and you've got more odd-ball quirkiness than you can shake a stick at.
The film eventually settles down and focuses on the turbulent relationship between the two sisters; the chemistry between Blunt and Adams really shining through in some touching scenes.
Many of the most moving parts of the film come more from Norah than Rose. A troubled alternative icon, all sassy pouts, eye liner, boots and sarcastic one-liners, we're given glimpses of the underlying reasons why she's the way she is - a highlight being a glorious shot of her under the railroad tracks, orange sparks from the passing train overhead lighting up her face as tears run down her cheeks.
Other such attempts to tug at our heartstrings are less successful. Oscar's use of his mum's van's CB radio to talk to god feels a little contrived but Jason Spevack's doe-eyed performance is convincing enough to make it feel a like more than a plot device.
It's an enjoyable film, if one which doesn't feel wholly satisfying come its conclusion, but it's full of inventive plot and touching moments of intimacy fuelled by the strong chemistry between the two sisters, which will most likely make this the hit indie film of the summer.