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Staff & contributors

Sunshine Cleaning is a great addition to that unidentified genre of grown-up comedies populated by other great entries like Your Sister's Sister and Enough Said. It is however, less of a comedy than it is a heart-warming emotional tale. Powered by outstanding performances from Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, it ultimately evolves into a character study of failed potential and validation seeking. Sunshine Cleaning is enjoyable, satisfying to a fault, and provides an interesting peak into the lives of its characters.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Alan Arkin, Amber Midthunder, Amy Adams, Amy Redford, Angelique Midthunder, Clifton Collins Jr., Emily Blunt, Eric Christian Olsen, Ivan Brutsche, Jason Spevack, Judith Jones, Kathy Lamkin, Kevin Chapman, Lois Geary, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Paul Dooley, Steve Zahn, Susie Yip, Vic Browder

Director: Christine Jeffs

Rating: R

Taking inspiration from neorealist classics, Chop Shop tells a thoroughly modern story about a pair of orphans contending with hard choices and blunt truths as they hustle to survive in New York City. But rather than take place in the concrete jungle, Ramin Bahrani’s third feature is set in an area of the city most of us aren’t familiar with: Queens’ “Iron Triangle,” an industrial zone crammed with scrapyards and car mechanic shops.

It’s in the upstairs room of one such shop that the bright young Ale (Alejandro Polanco) and his teen sister Isamar (Isamar Gonzalez) live, working days and nights downstairs to save up for the food truck that will give them a more stable life. This daily grind drives them into dark corners and onto the paths of unscrupulous adults, forcing the two kids to grow up beyond their years. Despite their plucky resilience, there’s still a childlike sweetness about them, which only further deepens the heartbreak of their situation. Polanco and Gonzalez give such emotionally raw and entirely believable performances that you’d almost think they were real siblings living lives like these. The fact that neither were professional actors before starring here makes their extraordinarily fluid performances all the more impressive, and helps burnish Chop Shop’s golden aura of genuine discovery.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Laura Patalano

Director: Ramin Bahrani