Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunshine Cleaning

You are strong.
You are powerful.
You can do anything.

The beauty of Sunshine Cleaning exists in moments like the quoted dialogue above... Amy Adams holding her head high, taking a deep breath, and conquering the world without complaint. I love her in this movie.

I first saw Sunshine Cleaning at a screening and again this past weekend with Meg, Karen, and Katie at that cute Cobble Hill theater off Butler street.

Amy Adams tends to smile with each word she says. Happy, sad, excited, non-emotional, emotional... every word. (Maggie Gyllenhall does this too-- watch Trust the Man, its gorgeous.) She smiles with her eyes but also with her mouth, translating to that 'full of life' quality that is so very difficult to pinpoint.

Emily Blunt follows suit, but only in one very specific scene, while talking about the death of her mother. If you pay attention, you will see that always Amy holds her head high while Emily looks to the floor. Its such a theater-y trick but works perfectly in this film essentially about the dynamic of two very different sisters.

Sunshine Cleaning represents the rare film about love in a non-romantic or even friendship form. Neither character enters any sort of hopeful romance, nor do they necessarily grow leaps and bounds with each other. And that's okay. The love exists (as love should) in the form of vocation, in the form of pride.

Rose learns to love herself and love those she encounters in her crime scene clean up business. It is a love story, get it? "We enter people's lives when they have experienced something profound. And sad. And we come in and clean it up and make it better." (The baby shower scene is phenomenal. I love, love, love watching Amy Adams talk about her work. It's just stunningly fresh.)

The grand swirling idea that I left this film with is the idea that we can be happy if we chose to be. It's that simple. We take what we have, do it really well, and find not only happiness but love. I think of Rose a lot while going about my days. I think about her handling of conflict, about her smiling through disappointment, and about her way of living without complaint or sorrow.

Rose has what I would consider a terrible, terrible life but has found a profound sense of self. She has what so few of us have... contentment and honor. And she spends her days scrubbing blood off shower walls and emptying body fluids into bio hazard waste containers. I look at myself and realize that I can do the same while calling galleries, while researching shows. Its about pouring love into every crevice of living... Rose does it better than anyone I've seen (save Poppy, maybe...).

I like that this film left romance out. We met Rose while she was mid-affair with a married high school boyfriend and left her when she was standing tall on her own two feet. They perhaps (perhaps!) hinted at a maybe-romance with the cleaning store guy but I, reader, don't think that was the point. The one-armed-cleaning-store-owner represented Rose's ability to see the world without judgement, to accept without thinking twice. He was the embodiment of 'rejected' and Rose welcomed him into her life with ease. Argue with me if you please, but he wasn't part of the plot, he was part of the meaning.

This movie caused me to think, to ponder, to change. (I mean it!) I no longer gag while cleaning the food bits from my sink drain, nor do I think twice before getting on my hands and knees to clean the toilet and take out the trash (stinky! stinky! stinky!, right Katinka?) And as I said before it altered the way I view my work and my vocation. The film was heartwarming and comforting where I expected crude humor.

I hope Amy and Emily can work together again soon, they killed it. In a good way. :)


La said...

So glad you decide to write about this...LOVED this film. It also inspired me to view my work differently....I think everyone needs a reminder sometimes. It definitely made me appreciate my life a lot. I agree with you about the one-armed-cleaning-store-owner. There were definitely hints of maybe-romance but that wasn't really the point. It was also very funny in parts...there were several times when I laughed out loud, which I loved. When Emily Blunt's character burned the house down, it was so sad yet also hilarious. I want to see it again!

Jen Pasko said...

I mean in all honesty the concept of cleaning with happiness cracks my stuff up. Yet, What I discovered through your eloquent description was finding joy in every "crevice" of your life. I personally need to embrace this concept right now in my life. I think you for the inspirational blog. LOVE IT!