Clean – movie review

Sandra Pankhurst was a remarkable woman whose life hardly followed a conventional path. She founded a successful trauma cleaning business and is a no-holds-barred public speaker. The documentary Clean starts by outlining the work undertaken by her conscientious employees. They must have a strong constitution, because this is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. Blood, guts, vomit, used syringes, rodents, mould and rubbish are part of the work. That work is trauma cleaning – clean-up in the wake of crime scenes and deaths. Importantly, they don’t judge others. They just muck in and clean.

Director Lachlan McLeod focuses on Pankurst’s attitude to her work and to life.  She’s an open book and what she brings is nothing short of revelatory. We learn Sandra’s back story – her own trauma and what made her who she is. Suffice to say, her life experiences have been many and varied. I won’t say more for fear of spoiling the shocks and surprises, which are many.

Clean features interviews with Pankhurst, along with her employees and clients. What struck me most was their humanity. Pankhurst – thought to be in her late 60s when the film was made – and her team genuinely care about others. To paraphrase one, all of us are only a heartbeat away from where some find themselves.

Clean is an enthralling and insightful piece. It lifts the lid on a side of life many would rather choose to turn a blind eye to. It moves along at pace.

In summary then, Clean is an unfiltered character study of a special human being and the way she has navigated the circumstances thrown at her. I’m all the richer for having seen it.

Clean is currently in limited release

Alex First

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