Monday, January 25, 2010

Sunshine Cleaning: Getting a little bored of the indie style

I just saw Sunshine Cleaning and it felt old and recycled to me.
I wrote in my last post about dramedies because I saw this film and was dissapointed by it's depressingness. I believe it was advertised as having had some connection to Little Miss Sunshine (same director, same writer, something like that) and it wasn't much of a follow-up. LMS made me laugh, cry, and jump for joy. Sunshine Cleaning just made me cry a little. The highs weren't as high and the story wasn't as interesting.

Proponents of indie films like that they don't have heavy plots because actual stories with action or plots get greenlit by studios and storyless stories are too risky. Therefore, indie films tend to be character-centered. The problem is that these characters on screen are ones I've seen before and I am rapidly becoming bored of. Amy Adams and Emily Blunt play two sisters in arrested development with real responsibilities that they can't handle that well. They trace it back to lack of a mother and work through those issues. As siblings who grew up in the same estranged circumnstances they make teammates on this journey. Emily Blunt's character also does drugs.

Let me recall the number of times I've seen this female adult-child variation:
There was Julia just this year whose protagonist had substance abuse problems. Last year, there was Rachel Getting Married whose protagonist was estranged from family and had substance abuse problems. Her path to retribution was through her sister. There was Laura Linney a year before that who went on a path of self-discovery with her brother in the Savages. Two years before that, there was In Her Shoes with Cameron Diaz being perpetually jobless and drunk. She and sister Toni Collette grew up (one overcomes commitment issues, one overcomes joblessness) through oming to grips with their mom's demise into insanity and early death. Good Girl has a Sunshine State features Edie Falco in a state of arrested development because she's been living in the same town forever You Can Count on Me features Laura Linney as an aduilt child who lost her parents at a young age to a car crash. She revisits those memories through a visit from her brother.

I happen to love You Can Count on Me (because it was novel at the time and it had a very sharp self-awareness), Sunshine State (the disillusioned adult-child was part of a large ensemble) and In Her Shoes (because they switched the roles up and made the main character not as much of an adult child), os I can't say that this is a bad trend but it's being overused to the point where I just didn't enjoy this film because I've seen these exact characters before so recently.

Worse, it's also becoming surefire Oscar bait. Two of Laura Linney's three Oscar noms have resulted from this type of role, and Anne Hathaway got an Ocsar nod last year for Rachel Getting Married. Tilda Swinton has gotten buzz for her role as well, so this exact role is bound to be repeated.

What's funny is that people are always saying indie films are better than studio films because they're aloud to be original, but I don't see that happening at all.

1 comment:

filmgeek said...

For a long time these were my favourite kind of films, but I didn't like Sunshine Cleaning or Gigantic as much as I was expecting and Rachel Getting Married seemed a bit like The Good Girl (the clean cut all-American actress trying to create a new image). These films used to be a welcome respite from the formulaic Hollywood crap but now it seems that they are becoming copies of each other