Sunshine Cleaning


Directed by: Christine Jeffs
Written by:Megan Holley
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Jason Spevack, Steve Zahn, Clifton Collins Jr
Released: June 11, 2009
Grade: B+

Rose (Adams) and Norah (Blunt) are two sisters who have started up their own cleaning business.  I’m not talking about regular household cleaning though.  They specialise is “crime scene clean up.”  When someone has passed away and the police finish their investigation, these two ladies come in a set things right.

This premise alone makes for some funny moments.  At their very first job, you see them scrubbing vigorously with toothbrushes trying to remove the blood from the wall of a shower.  Ok, so I admit that the humour is a little dark in places.  Not everyone might find that amusing.  I had to laugh though at a throw-away comment Rose makes about the murder and whether the owners of the house loved one another.

Now that I’ve got the comedic aspects out of the way, I have to emphasise that Sunshine Cleaning is a deeper, more layered film.  The reason Rose and Norah have found themselves in this profession is out of semi-desperation.  They both have issues and are trying to earn some cash to help solve them.

Rose has a young son named Oscar (Spevack) who has just been kicked out of school.  Oscar isn’t a rebellious kid – he’s just a little strange.  Rose has also been caught up in a dead-end relationship with a married man (Zahn).  Struggling with her own self-esteem, Rose doesn’t have the willpower to break it off and find a decent guy.

As for Norah, she can never hold down a job, she doesn’t have a love interest and she seems to be drifting aimlessly through life.  Rose has always tried to help out in her role as older sister but there’s only so much she can give.  Also in the mix is their father, Joe (Arkin), who makes a living selling dodgy merchandise to retailers.

This film can be heavy going at times… perhaps too much so.  There are a lot of demons in the closet which are revealed as the film progresses.  Plenty of tears are shed by Amy Adams (Doubt) and Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) in the leading roles.  I enjoyed the performance of Clifton Collins Jr (Capote) who makes a memorable cameo as the manager of a cleaning products store.

On the whole, Sunshine Cleaning is a warm-hearted flick which I enjoyed more for its laughs than its drama.