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Movie Review

Sunshine Cleaning

Though the premise is morbid, the quirky Sunshine Cleaning left a bright spot on my mind, thanks to the fine performances by Amy Adams and Emily Blunt as sisters who, despite not seeing eye-to-eye, become business partners in a cut-rate cleaning service that caters to tidying up after bloody accidents, crimes, suicides, and other deaths. Adams plays Rose, a former head cheerleader, now a single mom, ashamed of her current circumstances. She's poor, drives a crappy car, and works as a maid to pay the bills. She's in love with a married cop, Mac (Steve Zahn), who of course will never leave his wife. And she's compelled to pull her supersmart 8-year-old son, Oscar (Jason Spevack), out of a school that's insisting he be medicated to curb his disruptive behavior. After Mac suggests she go into the lucrative business of cleaning up crime scenes, Rose finds herself in a financial bind that leads her to do just that. Blunt plays the directionless Norah, Rose's younger sister, who is roped into joining the new family business. As expected, the job is disgusting, but to the sisters' and audience's surprise, there is satisfaction to be found in this dirty work.

Along the way, Rose strikes up an unlikely friendship with the owner of a industrial cleaning supply store, played by Clifton Collins Jr., who stands out in his role as a disabled loner who gets sucked into Rose's chaotic world. Norah seeks out Lynn (24's Mary Lynn Rajskub), a stranger whose photographs Norah finds among a deceased woman's belongings. Alan Arkin plays Rose and Norah's dad, who despite good intentions never seems to deliver on his promises, especially when it comes to his get-rich-quick schemes. While enjoyable to watch, Arkin's character is too reminiscent of the actor's Oscar-winning performance in that other movie with Sunshine in the title. Still, Adams and Blunt are terrific as these dysfunctional sisters and bring humor and pathos to the film. Adams -- who has proven her versatility in recent years with Junebug, Enchanted, and Doubt -- adds a minor but lovely feather to her cap with this role. Blunt, who broke out in The Devil Wears Prada, is clearly on the verge of becoming a leading lady.

Genre: Drama.
Written by: Megan Holley.
Directed by: Christine Jeffs.
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Jason Spevack, Steve Zahn, Clifton Collins Jr., Mary Lynn Rajskub.

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