Blu-ray Disc Review: Sunshine Cleaning

Anchor Bay

Movie½ PictureSound •• Extras½

You might think that a film about two young women who clean up the bodily fluids of dead people could be depressing - and you'd be right. It doesn't help that Sunshine Cleaning was shot with no regard for lighting, framing, editing, or any of the other tools that help make a movie involving. Acting is fine (by the likes of Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, joined by Alan Arkin), but the visuals just aren't worthy of a high-def transfer on Blu-ray Disc.

How unworthy? Everything's so flat and murky! Faces are silhouetted against burnt-out windows or mostly in shadow - not in a noir way, but resembling a soft, smeary, gray blotch. Brighter scenes, when the sun happens to be out, do have greater detail and richer color, but nocturnal images (and many dull-day scenes) are hopelessly dim and drab.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is a bit better. Most of the dialogue is clear. Pop songs in the score, however, are decidedly undynamic. There's none of the oomph or sparkle that uncompressed sound usually brings.

An 11-minute promo featurette has two real-life cleanup women saying how the film gets some things right but often is inaccurate, unlikely, and unrealistic. In a commentary, writer Megan Holley and producer Glenn Williamson talk about how director Christine Jeffs loved the color palette of Albuquerque; where'd it go? The discussion is amiable enough, but they're obviously oblivious to the sunshine-and-cleanup job that the film so desperately needed.