Sunshine Cleaning (2008)

(On DVD, October 2016) I don’t necessarily watch films based on casting, but Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Steve Zahn and Alan Arkin are enough to make anyone interested in Sunshine Cleaning. The premise itself does have a bit of a kick to it, as two down-on-their-luck sisters decide to go in business as crime scene cleanup specialists. Alas, casting and premise probably oversell the true nature of the film, an unglamorous and grounded (bordering on depressing) drama about dysfunctional people trying to keep it together. Don’t expect laughs by the barrel, don’t expect Adams or Blunt to vamp it up and don’t expect a triumphant ending. Albuquerque shows up without artifice, the story generally takes place in working-class settings in-between strip malls and noisy family restaurants. While this down-to-earthiness may disappoint a number of potential fans, Sunshine Cleaning does achieve most of the marks it sets for itself as a sentimental drama. Adams and Blunt get to stretch acting skills that often get forgotten in their broader movies, and Arkin is a delight even if his role doesn’t stray from his post Little Miss Sunshine persona. It may not amount to the glossy blockbuster comedy that the film could have become with a few tweaks, but Sunshine Cleaning works and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

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