Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunshine Cleaning

Sunshine Cleaning is pretty much a typical indie flick. It's a good movie but not a great movie. What elevated it above the dreck were the performances.

As with its indie cousin, Little Miss Sunshine, you've got Alan Arkin who is dependably great as patriarch Joe Lorkowski. And you've also got an adorably quirky kid in Jason Spevack who plays Oscar. He definitely gives Abigail Breslin a run for her money in the cuteness department. Then there's Steve Zahn who can always be counted on to be excellent as Mac and Mary Ellen Rajskub delivers a nicely nuanced performance as Lynn.

But the film basically lives or dies in the performances of Amy Adams as Rose Lorkowski and Emily Blunt as her sister Norah. I feel writer Megan Holley could have fleshed out more Adams' role as a woman who peaked in high school as head cheerleader and her co-dependent relationship with sister Norah--both sisters damaged by a tragic incident that occurred in their childhood.

But Blunt and Adams manage to deliver touching and heartfelt performances. Adams, always a revelation, takes a scene that could have been manipulatively melodramatic and contrived and turns it into a thing of grace and beauty. In another scene, Rose tells an acquaintance that her business helps people when they have experienced something "profound." I would have liked to have seen more of that.

But even with the sparkling Adams, the crusty Arkin, the cutie Spevak and the dark Blunt, my favorite performance was that of Clifton Collins, Jr. who played Winston. His one-armed store clerk was the most engagingly genuine of the film. He was so amazing, I was truly shocked to find out he has two arms! He's going to be in the new Star Trek film. I might be looking forward to seeing that more than Zachary Quinto's Spock.

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