single mom

Close to Home

I know this may be old news to many of you single moms since the movie came out 2 years ago, but I just watched it last night and couldn’t tell if I loved it or if it was too close to home. It really was eerie how connected I felt to the story. 

I’ve almost completely forgotten about my single parent movie list on this blog. At one point it was my mission to seek out all the film portrayals of single moms & dads and analyze them. That thought is still very tempting. If I ever thought about being scholarly again, I could fill a book with theories and observations on these characters I am represented by in Hollywood.

This movie, filmed almost entirely on location in Albuquerque, NM, felt like it was shot in my own backyard. I know I live in Colorado, but most people don’t realize I am closer to Abq than Denver. I know the city better. I watch their news. Living on the border for the last 13 or so years, sometimes I feel half-New Mexican and half-Coloradoan.

Sunshine Cleaning doesn’t portray its single mom heroine as an unstoppable force like Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, or the saint-like Natalie Portman in Where the Heart Is. Amy Adams’ character is portrayed as a soft-spoken, slightly clueless doormat with low-self esteem. The unflattering depiction of her life, as well as her flawed personality was the most uncomfortable part for me to watch.

If a more Piscean single mom character is represented in a movie, please show it to me. Seeing this woman was like watching myself, and while her plight was admirable, her spirit indomitable, her mistakes and failures were like a punch to my gut. The knowing tears I shed were out of shame and embarrassment.

I couldn’t tell if I hated her or loved her. The mirror in front of me was unflinching. It was so real.

God I’m a sap. It’s just a movie. But that’s how important they are to me. I can’t deny it. To me, a successful film makes you wonder WHY you are crying, WHY you are laughing. Why is it so important to you?  How does it touch you?

I truly believe there is a story out there for everyone, and a film can reach someone on a personal level in some way another person may not understand. Maybe that’s why I’m making a list of single parent movies. Trying to find out which story is mine. Which story I can be inspired by. Which story I never want to live.

Maybe there are people out there who can’t be touched by music, film, books, art, philosophy…but I’m glad I’m not one of them.

Or maybe I’m just an emotional wreck who should work for Lifetime.


4 thoughts on “Close to Home”

  1. I felt the same way about Sunshine Cleaning and identified A LOT with Amy Adams’ character and I’m not a Pieces!

    She, like all of us, tries so hard to take care of ourselves and our kids and it sucks sometimes. All I want is to make a good life for my daughter. I hate seeing traits of myself in movies featuring a single mom too. I makes me realize I’m not as perfect as I think I am and I’m not immune from making mistakes.


  2. That is what I LOVED about the movie, and her-simply because she was far more realistic than most single moms you see on TV. Vulnerable, a little ditzy, knowing she had to do SOMETHING to get $$ coming in, self-conscious amongst her old high school set because her life didn’t turn out the way she thought it would…I just loved it. She was real-good and bad-and I loved that.


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