The Streep-ists will hate us for saying it, but the best part of "The Devil Wears Prada" was Emily Blunt. The U.K.-born actress stole the show as the anorexic "clacker" we couldn't help but love, despite ourselves. And now Blunt's come back to us, in "Sunshine Cleaning," which made its Sundance debut in January but just went into limited release March 13.
"Sunshine Cleaning" also stars the adorable Amy Adams (she of "The Wedding Date" and "Doubt" fame) and Alan Arkin in an unexpected feel-good flick. Unexpected because the indie deals with suicide, murder, adultery and other themes that will have you wanting to leave the kiddies at home, but that also don't usually equal "happy."
The premise is this: Adams plays Albequerque-native Rose, the former queen of high school who has ended up a single mom struggling financially, settling for a married boyfriend and cleaning houses for a maid service to make ends meet. When she ends up scrubbing the home of a former high-school cheerleading teammate, she realizes a change is due. Rose's cop boyfriend sees the clean-up crew at his crime scenes raking in thousands, and suggests she go into the biz. Rose ropes in her underachieving sister, and Sunshine Cleaning is born. The underachieving sister is played by Blunt, who, stripped of her Prada and Louboutins is still stunning and full of attitude. She's frustrating and sour in the film, but still a force.
"Sunshine" is simple in its themes of being let down by those we want to love us, not feeling we've accomplished what we hoped and needing to take care of our family even when they don't want the help. But it's also smart enough to pull back the layers on its characters and show that each is a bit more complicated than she seems. Unlike many indies, however, it's not painful in its glaring portrayal of pain. This one, for better or for worse, won't have you squirming much.
It's not the feel-good hit of the year, but it might just be the hit your weekend, or weeknight, needs.