Sunshine Cleaning

Year: 2008
Production Co: Back Lot Pictures
Director: Christine Jeffs
Writer: Megan Holley
Cast: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Steve Zahn

It's possible the producers and studio behind this movie took the ad agency approach to their product, naming and pitching it so similarly to something else in the market they thought the people too stupid to realise the difference might return their investment alone (a possibility at only $5m).

It's also possible - though extremely unlikely - that they didn't realise how close in tone their film was to that other Sundance-flavoured, quirky family dramedy, Little Miss Sunshine.

Both films are set in the suburban Midwest, conservative enclaves the big city excitement of LA And New York forgot populated with hardworking people trying to clamber over challenges in their lives while fate delivers laughs the tears and brings them closer together.

Pretty Rose (Adams, sexier than we've seen her before) is a close cousin to Leap of Faith's Marva (Lolita Davidovich), a former cheerleader/homecoming queen type who's discovered adolescent popularity is fickle and won't put food on the table in adulthood nor guarantee a life of excitement beyond the school gates.

Looking sexier than we've seen her before, Adams as Rose similarly feels life has passed her by, still meeting the man she loved in high school (Zahn), now a cop, in cheap motels to conduct their affair years after he's married her high school rival.

Between her no-hoper younger sister Norah (Blunt) and her well meaning but possibly-going-senile father (Arkin, another common element with Little Miss Sunshine), Rose has more than she can handle bringing up her little boy alone.

When her lover talks about the money crime scene cleaners make, Rose figures she has little to lose, and as well as carving a very special and only slightly embarrassing niche for herself, she finds herself put in the path of people who are really suffering.

What the experience teaches her and Norah, who goes into the business with her, isn't clear apart from some ephemeral references to their own mothers' suicide years before. It's more just about the mood of the movie and Adams' irrepressible perkiness.

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