An unusual workline: Sunshine Cleaning


In this 2008 film – Sunshine Cleaning, what is upfront here –  is the basic spirit that the lady displays. This is a story of a woman, who has the spirit of an entrepreneur. In fact, many can relate to her story, both in her position as a single divorced mother, who did not have option of being an employee, (actually, which was not open to her at all)!

In order to raise the tuition fees to send her young son to private school, this mother starts an unusual business – a bio-hazard removal/crime scene clean-up service. So, the single mother becomes a full-fledged entrepreneur when she starts this quirky business – a crime-scene clean-up business. Yes, it is a rather unusual drama that you get here as it depicts an occasionally amusing slice of life – of a woman who is down on the luck factor, as far her life and love is concerned.

Sunshine Cleaning stands as an example of a story which was branded as a “dramadie” and it points more to the movie’s inadequacies as either a comedy or a drama rather than a clever fusion of the genres.  Truly, Sunshine Cleaning does not manage to get laughs out of the viewers. But, it must be noted that at the same time, the dramatic elements came with all the depth and predictability of Happy Gilmore.

The family portrayed here has Rose and Norah, in Albuquerque, who lost their mother when they were young. Rose is responsible – a housecleaner, raising her seven-year-old son Oscar. She’s also having an affair with Mac, a married cop, her high-school sweetheart. Norah can’t hold a job. Their dad, Joe, is quirky. When Oscar is expelled for odd behavior, Rose wants to earn enough to send him to private school. Mac suggests she clean up after crime scenes, suicides, and deaths that go undiscovered for awhile. Rose enlists Norah, and Sunshine Cleaners is born. Norah bonds with the dead, Rose finds out that it’s a regulated business, and complications arise. Can a family marked by tragedy sort things out?

Rose throws herself into the work and thus she launches a burgeoning career as an entrepreneur. That is the starting point, but her loyalty to put down sister/employee Emily Blunt threatens the health and future of her growing small business.

Despite its title and the prominent presence of Alan Arkin as an eccentric grandpa and the patriarch of a quirky family of dreamers and schemers, Sunshine Cleaning is not a sequel to Little Miss Sunshine, as many may think. Instead it’s a prototypical indie comedy-drama about misfits struggling to get by on to the fringes of society.

Sunshine Cleaning embodies a curious indie paradox: it’s a non-commercial, deeply personal film that overlaps so extensively with other non-commercial, deeply personal films that it feels strangely generic. The ostensibly novel cleaning-up-after-the-dead angle feels familiar after Pulp Fiction, the forgotten Quentin Tarantino-produced indie Curdled, the Samuel L. Jackson vehicle Cleaner, and Point Of No Return. 

There is an underlying inspiration lesson here – successful people do what others are not willing to do.  Confidence, determination, and a healthy dose of fearlessness will help you to move mountains.  And, moving mountains is what we watch the heroine, Rose doing through the course of the movie.

You May Also Like