Sunshine Cleaning (2009)
This mordant family drama has an intriguing premise, sisters who start a business cleaning up after messy crime scenes, but the film suffers from a crippling passivity. It’s nicely acted all around, especially Emily Blunt as the more troubled, wild child sister. The dysfunctional characters are established with momentary glimpses to back-stories, mostly tragic, but the narrative just sort of nudges them along. Sunshine Cleaning is a little too removed and clinical for its own good. The working-class characters are rundown but that doesn’t mean the movie has to feel the same way. Subplots and characters will be abandoned or left with no resolution. Alan Arkin’s scheming grandfather character never seems related to the plot, and he feels like he was lifted from another movie with a wackier veneer. It also makes time for cute sentimental elements that don’t jibe with the film’s tone, like using a CB radio to talk to loved ones in heaven. Sunshine Cleaning is sweet and sincere drama with some dark humor mixed in and it comes across as affable entertainment. Still, this movie had much more promise, if only it was less reserved and afraid to get its hands dirty.
Nate’s Grade: B-