“Sunshine Cleaning” A Dysfunctional Family still has Love

Genres: Comedy and Drama

Running Time: 1 hr. 32 min.

Release Date: March 13th, 2009

MPAA Rating: R for language, disturbing images, some sexuality and drug use.

Distributors: Overture Films


Directed by: Christine Jeffs



JJ Rating: B+


Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams) works for a cleaning business. She happens to fall into another business via her affair with Mac (Steve Zahn) who is a cop. The job is crime clean up. She goes into business with her sister Norah Lorkowski (Emily Blunt) and somethings go right and many things go wrong, but humor is still there even in the most tragic of moments. Sunshine Cleaning.


I thought Sunshine Cleaning was charming, darkly funny and heartwarming. My only qualm is with how many crime scenes they cleaned up. The trailer showed them all and that was slightly disappointing. It would have been cooler to see a bit more of the sisters working together in that environment and then it would have had a greater impact when an event occurs later on in the film when one sister works by herself.


Speaking of the sisters that is what makes this movie so astounding. Amy Adams and Emily Blunt are like peanut butter and jelly they go so well together. You would think that they would be at ends with one another based on personalities, if that is all one had to go on. But through the power of their phenomenal acting ability that, for now, has no limits Adams and Blunt make the two warring personalities work harmoniously throughout the entire film without a hitch.


Alan Arkin has that grumpy man thing down pat. He’s a bit more aloof in this one than he was in Little Miss Sunshine so there is a difference in the characters. His best moments are when he tells Oscar (Jason Spevack) how bright he is and his heart to heart with his daughter at the end of the film. Spevack is a great little actor. The curiosity that Oscar has is played so well and so naturally that hopefully he had to act to pull it off and it didn’t totally come too easily. He had that great look of being lost.


Blunt and Spevack have the bedtime story scene together and that is one of my favorite moments in the film. It’s amusing how Blunt dictates the story and how she reacts to questions about the story’s truthfulness. Blunt plays broken wholly and without flaw, as funny as that is to read it’s the truth. It does tend to beg the question where the actors get such ability, where do they pull from, from what memory do they channel this kind of pain? Wherever she pulls from it matters not, because I think Blunt is paving a nice golden road towards a coveted statue in the future.


Rose has to go to a cleaning supply store and the owner is Winston (Clifton Collins Jr ). The simple nature of these scenes is great script writing, acting and directing by Christine Jeffs. They are funny, touching and great scenes. The chemistry between Collins and Adams was light and perfect. They whispered their interests in one another through their facial expressions and gestures more than their words. It was a romantic sparring that is, for me, rejuvenating to see. Also Adams has magical eyes. She has emotional moments and her eyes are pools of profound thought that translates feeling to the viewer in a beautiful and masterful way. She adds on to what she had accomplished in Doubt.


They build upon the mother throughout the film and do so subtly as well as blatantly. They don’t talk about her a lot, but when they do it’s just enough so that when a certain scene happens the movie presents its heart for all to see and for all to feel. It’s an understandable scene by anyone that has lost someone and had something small that reminded them of that person, but it was lost. And when it is found the emotional storm that is connected to it takes hold. It’s an Oscar like scene. If they gave Oscars for great scenes I think this one would be a contender. It was sadly beautiful in a tragic family connecting way.


The humor is dark, dry, witty, cynical and sarcastic. It’s everything that humor was made to present. Sunshine Cleaning is a movie that will make one laugh and hold back tears. It shows how dysfunctional families work. They work like a grocery cart with a wayward wheel, it’ll get you where you want to go but not in a straight line. Sunshine Cleaning will take you on a journey, but the location it will bring you to will not be where you thought you end up.

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