The characters at the center of Sunshine Cleaning are like the crime scenes they're paid to clean up: messy, broken, and mired by tragedies of the past. Years after the death of his wife, Joe Lorkowski and his two daughters are still tremendously wounded. Sure, these wounds have somewhat scabbed over, but they haven't disappeared. Joe, Rose, and Norah are left with emotional limps that hinder their progress and growth. They're each, in some way, stuck.
The film's focus, older sister Rose (Amy Adams of Doubt and Enchanted), is plagued by low self-worth and insecurity. She stays in an unhealthy relationship with a married man. She burdens herself—in typical first-born style—with taking care of everyone around her instead of herself. She says she's going to school for a real estate license, but she's not. Instead, she doesn't believe in herself enough to change anything; she just wallows in an unsatisfying life as a maid.
Younger sister Norah (Emily Blunt of The Devil Wears Prada) is stuck in perpetual adolescence. The loss of her mom has manifested into complete idleness. She's noncommittal, lost. She's convinced she can't stand on her own and, therefore, she doesn't. She can't keep a job. She still lives at home. She just can't move on.
Their dad (Alan Arkin of Little Miss Sunshine and Get Smart) looks to the future with great optimism—making big promises and dreaming big—but can't apply realistic steps to get there. Instead, he hatches ill-fated schemes like selling raw shrimp from his car. Possibly due to unresolved bitterness and guilt, he watches his promises and dreams fall flat.
The story of this loving—but dysfunctional and broken—family is dressed as a quirky, postmodern independent ...1
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