Perusing the offerings at Netflix, and mostly not content with the five thousand, four hundred, and fifty-two films already in my queue, I found this little gem recently and had it routed to my own mailbox in short order:
Nice cast, I thought. Samuel Jackson and Ed Harris. I'm not as familiar with the female lead here. (This could very well be because I don't get out much anymore.)
The first thing I noticed was that Samuel Jackson had put on a little bit of weight since his film with Geena Davis, "The Long Kiss Goodnight." You can see it in his face, mostly.
Jackson in "Cleaner":
Jackson in "Long Kiss Goodnight":
The second thing I noticed was that the actress who played Jackson's daughter, Keke Palmer, should have had much higher billing:
She was simply wonderful in the part. No... not just wonderful. She was excellent. Believable. And that's what you want from a good actress. She was, in short, perfect in this part.
This little film, "Cleaner", is what I would definitely call "Film Noir." Interesting in its photography and lighting and a little bit mesmerizing in its sequencing, I found it thoroughly enjoyable. Here, you have humanity at its best and worst all tangled up into one little ball of a story (just as we all are).
This film was an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007. How come I'm only just now finding it, I ask myself. I answer back, "I'm old! Mind your own business!" But then I do soften and tell myself that I'm glad I found it now.
There is one scene in which Jackson is cleaning what appears to be a mom-and-pop quickie food store. He hears someone crying. Slowly he moves toward the sound and sees, through the partially-opened backroom door, an Asian woman sobbing. For a moment he does nothing, and then he reaches up and slowly closes the door. I found myself absolutely fascinated by this scene. Does he close the door to give the woman privacy in her grief? Does he close the door because he finds the crying disturbing? Both? We don't know. But this little scene lends a depth to both the film and the character Jackson portrays.
The basic story revolves directly around Jackson's character who is an ex-cop and current cleaner of crime scenes (and other messes too much for the property owners to handle). He cleans a home specified in a job order that came in to his business and later discovers a dark mystery concerning the house and the job.
All is ultimately revealed near the end. (Bet you wondered how I was going to work Theme Thursday into this post, didn't you?)
This film, like life, is a little bit messy, a little bit satisfying, a little bit haunting, a little bit unsettling. If you haven't seen it, do. I think you will enjoy it.