Sunshine Cleaning

Trying to get a break in the ever-expanding, hanging-by-a-thread sector of the working class

REVIEW The minimum wage that Albuquerque single mom Rose (Amy Adams) earns as a housecleaner isn't enough to pay for the private school her eight-year-old son needs after his weird behavior exhausts the public one's resources. And aimless-party-girl younger sis Norah (Emily Blunt) just got fired from her own last crap job. Cop Mac (Steve Zahn), the former high school sweetheart who chose to marry someone else but is still having an affair with Rose, tells her there's real money to be made in the unpleasant business of "crime scene and trauma cleanup" — in other words, scouring the mess left over after the body has been removed from a murder, suicide, or natural death site. This agreeably low-key tale from director Christine Jeffs and scenarist Megan Holley isn't the black comedy you might expect, given that plot hook: in fact one nice thing about it is that it doesn't turn the aftermath of sad or tragic events into a joke. Instead, the emphasis is on sister dynamics and trying to get a break in the ever-expanding, hanging-by-a-thread sector of the working class. There's nothing wildly original here, but Sunshine satisfies in the pleasantly familiar but not-dumb mode of 2007's Waitress. Good supporting performances include those by Alan Arkin as (yet another) eccentric grampa, and Clifton Collins Jr. as a very personable one-armed cleaning supplies store clerk.

SUNSHINE CLEANING opens Fri/20 in Bay Area theaters.

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