Academy Award® Nominee Amy Adams, Golden Globe® Winner Emily Blunt, and Academy Award Winner®Alan Arkin find an unexpected way to turn their lives around in this “colorful, refreshingly quirky comic drama” (Leah Rozen, People). Desperate to get her son into a better school, single mom Rose (Amy Adams) persuades her slacker sister Norah (Emily Blunt) to join her in the crime scene cleanup business to make some quick cash. With the help of their ill-fated salesman father (Alan Arkin), they climb the ranks in a very dirty job, finding themselves up to their elbows in murders, suicides, and… specialized situations. But underneath the dust and grime they also come to discover a true respect for one another, and create a brighter future for the entire Lorkowski family.
If Sunshine Cleaning occasionally recalls Sundance sensations like Little Miss Sunshine and Happy, Texas--note the cookie-cutter title and casting of Alan Arkin--it still offers an irresistible charm all its own. They don't look much alike, but Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, who both appeared opposite Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson's War, offer convincing, heartfelt performances as Albuquerque sisters who barely get along (all the more impressive considering Blunt's upper-crust British credentials). Single mother and former cheerleader Rose (Adams), the optimistic and semi-responsible one, cleans houses for a living. Norah (Blunt), the pessimistic and irresponsible one, lives with their father, Joe (Arkin), a loving grandfather and lousy salesman, and attempts to earn her keep as a waitress. When both women find themselves in need of a quick influx of cash, Rose convinces Norah to join her as a crime-scene cleaner, a job her married, police-officer lover (an underused Steve Zahn) assures her pays well. He's right, but the ladies find the work even more emotionally demanding than physically repulsive, especially once they become entangled with Lynn (24's Mary Lynn Rajskub), a lonely blood-bank worker, and Winston (Capote's Clifton Collins Jr.), a one-armed cleaning-supply salesman. Megan Holley's script may be a mite overstuffed, but the pace never lags, and Christine Jeffs' follow-up to Sylvia packs an emotional punch that Little Miss Sunshine--arguably, the funnier film--lacked, even if the Oscar-winning Arkin plays a similarly unconventional grandfather figure. Then again: few do it better. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Stills from Sunshine Cleaning (Click for larger image)