Sunshine Cleaning

Sunshine Cleaning movie poster
MPAA rating: R
Genre: Comedy
A pair of sisters (Amy Adams and Emily Blunt) get involved in the unsavory world of crime scene clean-up.
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin
Director: Christine Jeffs
Running time: 1:42

Editorial Review

Amy Adams and Emily Blunt were born to play sisters. It's a tiny tragedy that destiny arrives in the form of "Sunshine Cleaning," a boring, choppy dramedy.

How nice for Adams and Blunt to find a movie with two female lead characters, a female director (Christine Jeffs, who did the decent Plath biopic "Sylvia") and a rookie female screenwriter, Megan Holley.

How deflating that it leads nowhere.

Adams is Rose, a maid. Blunt is Norah, a burnout. The sisters' lives have dead-ended. When Rose's young son starts acting up at school, she decides to look for a private school where he can flourish. To help pay for it, Rose enters the expanding, lucrative market of crime-scene cleanup and entices Norah to join her.

There are no inward or outward journeys in this movie. The sisters don't really get closer. They don't reconcile the lingering grief from their mother's premature death or learn what really goes on in their father's head. "Sunshine Cleaning" should have been a madcap comedy of the macabre, or a tangled yarn about the metaphorical biohazards of living life at the margins, but it shoots for the middle and ends up being just that: middling.

There is, no doubt, a dearth of decent, uncompromised roles for talented women like Adams and Blunt. They can't be faulted for signing up for "Sunshine Cleaning," which is earnest and well meaning and tries to say something thoughtful about the untidiness of family relationships, which, if untended to, can decompose and start to smell. But if Adams or Blunt receives a lifetime achievement award 30 years down the road, there's no way "Sunshine Cleaning" will be included in the tribute reel.

-- Dan Zak (March 20, 2009)

Contains language, disturbing images, sexuality and drug use.