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I'm an Irish guy living in France. I like music, books, creative writing, art, history, vegetarianism, people, and chocolate.

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Monday 29 June 2009

Sunshine Cleaning

I went to see Sunshine Cleaning yesterday ; I hadn't been to the cinema for a while. I'd missed it. It's so different from watching DVDs. I don't know if it's because of the "collective experience" side to it, or the bright silver screen, or the dusty tattered old seats, but there's definitely something magic to the cinema... A bit like in Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures. The cinema I go to in Reims is privately owned ; it's set in an old opera-house, and it often shows "indie" films and foreign movies, subtitled and in the original language instead of dubbed as in most French cinemas.

I was really looking forward to Sunshine Cleaning. I'm a sucker for all those Sundance festival films. I'm aware that that type of "indie" film isn't original anymore. The humour is often dark, the characters are offbeat, and the soundtrack is always made up of indie pop or folk bands. But I love those films. I go to the cinema for the entertainment, not for highbrow pseudo-intellectual arroganza—I spend enough time reading that sort of stuff for uni, thank you very much. The Sundance films maybe aren't original, but they're entertaining, and more often than not, refreshing.

In Sunshine Cleaning, as in Little Miss Sunshine, all the characters are "broken", they are all "losers". Rose (Amy Adam) is an ex-cheerleader who is now a cleaner-lady, who hasn't the strength to put an end to an affair with her high school sweetheart who decided to marry another girl. Rose's little boy, Oscar, is a gifted but "special needs" child who keeps getting kicked out of school because of his OCD behaviour. Rose's younger sister, Norah (Emily Blunt), is a thrill-seeking immature young adult who can't hold a job, and tries to drown her grief in anything she can. The girls' mother committed suicide when they were very young, and they've never managed to get over it ; their father (Alan Arkin) keeps making promises he never keeps, and, convinced that he has "business acumen", constantly plans new and unsuccessful business ventures. All the characters need redemption, and they find it by helping others. Rose and Norah feel a special connection to the people they clean up after (they start a crime scene cleanup business). Their father takes care of Oscar while they're at work. A one-armed shopkeeper looks after Oscar at one stage during the film. And yet all these "helpers" are never "rewarded" in any obvious way. Rose takes care of the whole immature bunch (son, sister and father) and never gets any recognition for it. The one-armed shopkeeper who seems to like Rose doesn't even get a "thank you" from her for looking after her son. Norah tries to help a young woman by reconciling her with her dead mother, and it doesn't work out ; she even accidentally burns down a house while working alone to let Rose go to a high scool reunion party. The grandfather fails to raise enough money to buy Oscar a gift he promised to give him for his birthday.
None of the characters are "rewarded" in any conventional way. Instead, they find love. Not eros, not romantic love, but agape, unconditional love. They grow closer to one another. They may be broken, and yes, they may be losers in the eyes of the world, but together, they are able to "cope", to live, to find joy.

1 comment:

Jonny said...

We watched this last night, thought it was pretty good!

Emerald Champagne

rambling on...

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