In his annual Sundance-is-about-to-begin article, L.A. Times critic Kenneth Turan said yesterday that Christine Jeff‘s Sunshine Cleaning, which will have its first festival screening tomorrow (i.e., Friday) night at the Racquet Club, features “a vibrant performance by Amy Adams that not even the work she’s done in Enchanted and Junebug prepares you for.”

Amy Adams in Sunshine Cleaning

In other words, he’s seen it. And in other words, one gathers, Adams is playing another open-hearted emotional innocent facing each day with a plucky smile, determined to see and respond to only the good in people, and just charming the pants off everyone with her middle-American radiance and belief in half-full glasses of water. If her Sunshine Cleaning character is different than this, great. But Turan has put the fear of God in.
You know what I mean. Adams delivers the kind of schtick — a barrage of inner glow, positivism, hopefulness — that would cause the Cloverfield monster to turn tail and run away screaming. It sure as hell gives me the willies, I can tell you.
I don’t like women who always seem to be taking “happiness pills” any more than I like people who are glum all the time. I’ve seen this kind of personality emanate in real life from girly-girls and conservative-minded country-music music performers and red-state Christian wives and girlfriends, and it creeps me out. I want to grab them and say, “Do you ever have an emotion that isn’t ‘happy’ or ‘positive’? What are you so fucking afraid of?”
But most people have found Adams’ spirited-ness appealing, and since playing a wholly positive-minded pregnant wife in Junebug producers, as I hear it, have been offering her similar parts to based on a confidence that she will deliver that schtick in spades. All to say that I’m approaching Sunshine Cleaning, as I’m sure many others are, with a certain apprehension. If my fears prove unfounded, terrific, but you know how this goes.
From the Sundance program: “Expertly conceived and executed by New Zealand native Christine Jeffs, Sunshine Cleaning is fueled by the enormous appeal of Amy Adams and Emily Blunt as two sisters who, in their effort to escape the malaise and general shabbiness of their day-to-day existence, undertake a very specialized business: cleaning up the blood and body parts at various crime scenes and suicide sites.”
How can you not be relentlessly upbeat and buoyant when you’re cleaning up bloody crime scenes all day long? If you don’t the miserable after-vibe of murder and mayhem could infect your soul, and you can’t let this happen. See where this is going?
Sunshine Cleaning will also play early Sunday afternoon at the Eccles, and will have a press screening late Monday morning at the Holiday Village.