The Oscar nominations came out last week and if there was an award for the ‘Best Embrace of Failure’, the sure fire favourite would have to be Sunshine Cleaning. From the makers of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ (which inspired a post that turned out to be one of my highest hit posts of this blog) comes another winner about losing.
One of the film’s most poignant explorations is the subject which touches the most abject and profound of failures – suicide. On the most superficial level, one could think that suicide is the ultimate embrace of failure, but the film illustrates powerfully how it is not. Suicide is not turning failure to good. It is not ‘embracing’ the failures of one’s life, but trying to avoid them through the ultimate escape. Instead, suicide multiplies the pain and trauma of failure a hundred fold for those who remain. The film’s very first scene starts with this subject and goes on to feature it as the central ‘adversity’ to the film and protagonists.
Like Little Miss Sunshine, the film is a case study in adversity to every character has their own adversities to cope with. Lost wife. Lost mother. Lost love. Lost limb. Lost innocence. Lost way. Lost childhood. Failed job. Failed business. Failed venture. Failed school.
While the heroine Rose could have easily described her lot as, ‘I was desperate and took the crappiest of crap jobs cleaning up the most putrid of messes in the most horrific of circumstances.’ Instead, she sees the brilliant light of her broader impact and importance, “We come into people’s lives when they have experienced something profound and sad and we help them.” The embrace transforms her life, the lives around her and everyone she touches with her important service delivered with her inspirational outlook.