Talk about pushing buttons, Sunshine Cleaning hits them all... death, suicide, family, God, the afterlife, poverty, sex, friendship, yearnings, dreams, loneliness, and more. It's a movie that touches on lots of heart issues. It hit me hard and I loved it.
The acting is great. Amy Adams plays Rose Lorkowski, a single mom trying to establish herself and raise her little boy while facing challenges on several fronts. She and her sister Nora (played by Emily Blunt) wind up starting a "biohazard removal" business, i.e., cleaning up bloody crime scenes. Meanwhile we find out what's eating away at their souls: when they were little girls their mother committed suicide. Ever since, Rose and Nora have searched for something or someone to take away their heartache.
Really, each character in the movie is yearning for God, they just don't know it. Parents, friends, lovers, and careers all prove unfaithful in some way. In a telling scene, Rose picks up a CB radio and talks to the heavens, hoping her mother is listening. The gospel hears and replies, "God is."
I'm struck by how well Sunshine Cleaning depicts our fallen world. Like a horrific crime scene, signs and symbols of death are everywhere we look. Beauty has been defaced. The creation has been ruined by sin. But it's into this smelly, rotten world that Jesus came to bring sunshine and clean up the mess.
At present, as the author of Hebrews says, "we do not see everything subject to him" (Heb. 2:8). That is, the cleanup process has only begun; there's a lot more carnage yet to be removed. But if we look carefully "we see Jesus, [who tasted] death for everyone" (Heb. 2:9). In other words, the incarnation means that we are not alone in this crime scene called earth. Jesus experienced our sadness and loss on the cross, and rose again to offer hope to all who call on him.
(Caution: Sunshine Cleaning is rated R for language, disturbing images, some sexuality and drug use.)