Rose (performed by Amy Adams) and Norah (by Emily Blunt) are sisters who have been raised in Albuquerque by their dad, Joe (by Alan Arkin). Things haven’t been easy for Joe or the family – he’s raised the girls single-handedly since their mother died while they were children. Things could be better for both women – Rose is in a dead-end relationship with her high school sweetheart Mac (by Steve Zahn), who’s a cop and is married – and her job as a house-cleaner isn’t exactly what she envisaged for herself either. Norah’s a waitress in a greasy diner, but she never holds down a job for long and overall she’s at a bit of a loose end. She never really seems to get it together. But the one bright spark in everyone’s lives is Rose’s young son, Oscar (by Jason Spevack), who’s a creative and smart young boy who doesn’t quite fit the mould either. Money’s always been tight – Joe’s usually got a big idea that never seems to come off and these days Rose’s job isn’t paying enough – she is getting into a bind. As the elder sister, she makes sure she’s got everything together, not only for herself and Oscar, but she tries to keep an eye on Norah too. One day Mac suggests to Rose that there’s big money to be made in cleaning up messy crime scenes. Even though she knows little about it, Rose decides to take this up and employs Norah as her assistant – so the “Sunshine Cleaning” business is born. They get underway and things start to look up – but then, just when everything is starting to fall into place, Norah’s luck suddenly runs out and with bad results for Rose as she is left to pick up the pieces.
This movie is nice. The difficult lives of this family are clear – and the strong message throughout is that they get their pleasure from their relationships and the love within the family. As Rose, Amy Adams is very good, as is Emily Blunt. Alan Arkin makes a great grandfather and young Jason Spevack is a natural – well done. I like Clifton Collins Jr here too – he’s a surprise actually, he’s really good in the support role as the cleaning supplies guy. He brings a breath of fresh air to this otherwise fairly predictable story. However, much more could have been made of his role and I’d say the same for the weird side story that involves Norah and the daughter of a deceased client from one of their “clean-up” homes; it promises much but isn’t really developed at all, so I wonder about its relevance. However, the two key women work well together as the sisters. I’ve seen a few of Emily Blunt’s performances and there hasn’t been one that I didn’t enjoy – she always seems to have a role with an edge. I’d say Amy Adams is better here than in some of her work since this one.The comedy is sweet and some of the emotion is quite raw. Overall it’s quite good.
Made in 2008. Directed by Christine Jeffs.