Monday 9 July 2012

Cleaning shit off a wall with a toothbrush

The other evening my girlfriend put on one of her films, but despite my initial fears I did not die. The early signs were not good. It had Alan Arkin in it as an eccentrically curmudgeonly grandfather, which raised my fears that this film might prove to be heartwarming, or even worse, life-affirming. Oh no.

But luckily, Sunshine Cleaning was actually pretty good. I enjoyed it. The reason I enjoyed it so much is because it did that thing that so very few films do these days: realism. People are scared of realism in films. This is because realism is boring and drags on seemingly unceasingly. But just because something is boring, doesn't mean it can't be interesting. What I liked about Sunshine Cleaning is that it was just a story. No great message or theme particularly, just a story. Some stuff that takes place. Like life, things happened and, like life, they weren't resolved in their entirity within 91 minutes. No-one blew up or got hooked into a gritty smack battle or won any great battles or galloped about on a horse taking pot shots at vikings. In fact, a lot of the issues that the film addressed - bereavement, self-employment, emotional detachment, standards of business practice, the failings of the education system, social status, lesbianism - are only ever really skirted around, leaving the majority of the conclusions to the viewer's imagination.

I like this. It feels like we stuck our nose into someone else's business for an hour and a half and now we get to dream up what happened next. Every viewer does. I rather enjoy that. In my film, Emily Blunt drives around the southern United States on a lesbionic voyage of sexual discovery, while the other one gets married to the one armed man who works in the bleach shop and they have lots of moustachioed one-armed children. Alan Arkin makes some sort of bold business move and ends up having to sell a kidney. It was a good film, my one.

More films should be ultimately pointless and just drift past, causing the viewer to daydream. Who knows who Darth Vader could have been if they hadn't shot that particular fox and revealed everything? He could have ended up on a lesbionic voyage of sexual discovery in New Mexico, or selling a fibreglass shark to Alan Arkin. Maybe that bloke only had one arm because of a Light Sabre accident?

Amy Adams, that was the name of the other one.

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