Sunshine Cleaning

March 27th, 2009


Sunshine Cleaning

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Still of Amy Adams and Emily Blunt in Sunshine CleaningStill of Amy Adams and Christine Jeffs in Sunshine CleaningErin Cummings at event of Sunshine CleaningStill of Mary Lynn Rajskub and Emily Blunt in Sunshine CleaningStill of Alan Arkin, Amy Adams, Emily Blunt and Jason Spevack in Sunshine CleaningStill of Amy Adams and Jason Spevack in Sunshine Cleaning

In order to raise the tuition to send her young son to private school, a mom starts an unusual business -- a biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service -- with her unreliable sister.

Release Year: 2008

Rating: 7.0/10 (28,139 voted)

Critic's Score: 61/100

Director: Christine Jeffs

Stars: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin

A family. Rose and Norah, in Albuquerque, lost their mother when they were young. Rose is responsible - a housecleaner, raising her seven-year-old son Oscar. She's also having an affair with Mac, a married cop, her high-school sweetheart. Norah can't hold a job. Their dad, Joe, is quirky. When Oscar is expelled for odd behavior, Rose wants to earn enough to send him to private school. Mac suggests she clean up after crime scenes, suicides, and deaths that go undiscovered for awhile. Rose enlists Norah, and Sunshine Cleaners is born. Norah bonds with the dead, Rose finds out that it's a regulated business, and complications arise. Can a family marked by tragedy sort things out?

Amy Adams - Rose Lorkowski
Emily Blunt - Norah Lorkowski
Alan Arkin - Joe Lorkowski
Jason Spevack - Oscar Lorkowski
Steve Zahn - Mac
Mary Lynn Rajskub - Lynn
Clifton Collins Jr. - Winston
Eric Christian Olsen - Randy
Paul Dooley - Sherm
Kevin Chapman - Carl
Judith Jones - Paula Datzman-Mead
Amy Redford - Heather
Christopher Dempsey - Gun Shop Suicide
Vic Browder - Gun Shop Owner
Ivan Brutsche - Above and Beyond Worker

Taglines: life's a messy business.


Official Website: Official site [Germany] | Official site [Japan] |

Release Date: 27 March 2009

Filming Locations: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $219,190 (USA) (15 March 2009) (4 Screens)

Gross: $16,174,377 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The car Rose drives is a Toyota Tercel Second Generation (1982-1986).

Boom mic visible: About 54 minutes into the movie, when Oscar is crossing a street, a microphone can be clearly seen on the top left corner of the screen for a few seconds.

[first lines]
Talking Deer Head: Attention all fellow deer. If you find deer feed in the middle of the forest, be a bit suspicious.

User Review

A Blunt Ray of Sunshine through the Darkness

Rating: 8/10

A struggling single mom named Rose (Amy Adams in her comedy/drama wheelhouse) gets tired of working for a maid service and boldly decides to branch out into crime scene clean-up with her lay-about sister Norah (Emily Blunt, ironically named) in Christine Jeffs' observant and easy-going "Sunshine Cleaning".

Although it has been marketed as one of those quirky dramedies the studios love to shove down our throats every year, Jeffs' film (from a solid screenplay from Megan Holley) is more in tune with somber yet hopeful indie character studies. The film deals with some dark subject matter and poignantly explores grief and family dysfunction but maintains a positive outlook and contains some solid situational laughs. The combination of an interesting set-up, smart writing, likable characters and winning performances make the film, even when it teeter-totters from dark to sappy, go down smooth. None of the characters seem forced upon us, unlike the overtly quirky family from "Little Miss Sunshine" or the stylized dialog spewing teens from "Juno". These characters talk and interact like real people and there's a naturalism in the way their relationships develop.

It makes for engaged viewing when a film like this doesn't feel the need to explain every detail or tie up every loose end so nicely. Some subplots involving Norah taking a personal interest in one of the clean-up jobs that leads to an awkward friendship with a blood-bank worker (Mary Lynn Rajskub of "24" fame) or a one-armed supply store guy (Clifton Collins Jr.) who takes a shine to Rose aren't resolved in a typical fashion, and some things are never made known or left open-ended. It makes the film feel truer to life. Even when Rose's precocious kid (Jason Spevack) tries to talk to heaven on a CB radio in what would normally be considered a contrived and cutesy moment, you feel like you've grown to know the character and it's just something he would do. Likewise, Alan Arkin as the sisters' scheming entrepreneurial father behaves and acts like a real guy who's had to struggle raising two girls alone and is just trying to help them catch a break.

Amy Adams, of course, is an absolute delight. Something about her girl-next-door good looks combined with her innate talents as a comedienne and her theatrical background that produces some of the best facial expressions and crying-on-cue you'll ever see make her the perfect choice for this type of role. While it's easy to sing the praises of Adams, and she's never been more endearing or relatable than here, Emily Blunt proves to be an excellent foil. It's Blunt's sharp portrayal and her character's story arc that provide the film its emotional weight. Both actresses deserve to be remembered come awards season, and "Sunshine Cleaning" is that rare spring-time bird: a film worthy of buzz.


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