Jerry Seinfeld told a joke long before the deep economic woes we’re in right now. It went something like, “When people say there are no jobs, there are plenty of jobs. They are just not any of the jobs you want to do.”
In the film, “Sunshine Cleaning,” Amy Adams stars as a woman who finds a way to make a living by cleaning crime scenes — homicides, suicides, and whatnot. Besides splattered human blood and tissue, the messes she and her sister clean include leftover smells and sticky memories.
This offbeat film is a comedy. Actually, it’s a serious film about two sisters and a father finding themselves and each other. However, if this film effectively realized that without funny, it could never poke its peculiar storyline above depressing.
For all its yuchy and mired substance, this is a life-affirming film. The interplay of characters carries another filmmaking gamble well. Scene after scene, this movie stays low-key. It steers clear of expectable extremes that would have trivialized the script.
At its center “Sunshine Cleaning” keeps you rooting for the Amy Adams character to make her life work.
Adams is hot off her second Oscar nomination. She was the young nun buffeted inside a Catholic school controversy in “Doubt.” With impressive turns in “Junebug” and “Enchanted,” and now in “Sunshine Cleaning,” Adams finds different ways in all four movies to combine naiveté and vulnerability and positivity.
Amidst other impressive acting, Alan Arkin plays a dad and granddad, not unlike the one he won an Oscar for in “Little Miss Sunshine.” Don’t compare these two performances or the two “Sunshine” films, even though the some of the same producers leveraged certain elements in both films.
Yes, compare them. These two peculiar cinematic siblings were nurtured well, despite the dissembling culture of the movie business. It may be easier to say you like the silly underpinnings of “Little Miss Sunshine,” but there’s plenty to appreciate in the more stinging family circumstances of “Sunshine Cleaning.”