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Sunshine Cleaning (2009)



Average Rating: 6.3/10
Reviews Counted: 168
Fresh: 121 | Rotten: 47

Despite a sometimes overly familiar plot, Sunshine Cleaning benefits from the lively performances of its two stars.


Average Rating: 6.2/10
Critic Reviews: 42
Fresh: 31 | Rotten: 11

Despite a sometimes overly familiar plot, Sunshine Cleaning benefits from the lively performances of its two stars.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 179,996

My Rating

Movie Info

A thirtysomething single mother whose boundless potential was squandered through a series of failed relationships and a misguided effort to help her younger sister succeed in life finds the fruits of her labors finally coming together in director Christine Jeffs' dark family comedy. Back in high school, the future looked pretty bright for Rose Lorkowski (Amy Adams); not only was she the cheerleading captain, but she was also dating the star quarterback. Flash forward a little over a decade, and



Megan Holley

Aug 25, 2009


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Latest News on Sunshine Cleaning

March 15, 2009:
Bringing Death to Life for Sunshine Cleaning
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All Critics (172) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (121) | Rotten (47) | DVD (8)

Jeffs makes a good fist of the direction and Blunt proves that she can do comedy, but it's Adams's comforting, charismatic central turn which really gives the film its lift.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Taken on its own terms, though, it's a solid indie effort with plenty of nice character strokes by screenwriter Megan Holley and razor-sharp performances by Amy Adams and Emily Blunt.

May 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sunshine Cleaning is one of those dependent independent films -- dependent on the need to be "quirky" yet "heartfelt" too, and as much a slave to the formulaic as any Hollywood product.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Adams and Blunt rise above the clunky premise and execution to once again demonstrate why they've become the go-to girls for any director seeking smart, versatile and warm-blooded talent.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Its overall ability to balance humor and drama, attention to emotional detail and a few winning performances outweighs its maudlin tendencies.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The irrepressible Adams puts a sunny face on a life that hasn't worked out, but that's worth the struggle in spite of it all.

March 25, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sunshine Cleaning a compelling and thoroughly adult picture, boasting an original plot and, in Adams and Blunt, two of the most talented young actresses working today.

September 29, 2012 Full Review Source:

Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, two fine actresses, get the opportunity to glow in strong lead roles as complex, emotionally fractured females who work hard to earn your respect -- and reclaim their own.

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: American Profile
American Profile

New directions in chick flicks: dried arterial blood sprays, maggots, and heart tugs.

August 16, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Sunshine Cleaning is a decent film, especially if you already like this sort of thing, with a lot of subtlety and a desire to represent actual human beings without demonizing or beatifying any of them.

March 30, 2011 Full Review Source:

Well worth a look for those who aren't too disillusioned with the post-Juno Indie film scene.

March 1, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

Amy Adams sweeps through the wide-ranging role with zest, enthusiasm and just the right touch of simmering self-anger.

November 15, 2010 Full Review Source: JWR

This is a flick about two women who go into the business of cleaning up crime scenes. Somebody should be hired to clean up the mess of a script for "Sunshine Cleaning".

January 4, 2010 Full Review Source:

More sobering than laugh-out-loud funny, Sunshine Cleaning gives full weight to the impact of death without rubbing our faces in the crime scenes.

December 17, 2009 Full Review Source:

The movie never quite knows how to tackle the material because it literally jumps all over the map...

December 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Megan Holley's script feels like it's been Sundance-workshopped to death. However, the cast - led by Amy Adams, Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin - establishes a vibrantly odd family bond that sustains "Sunshine Cleaning" through its dimmer portions.

September 30, 2009 Full Review Source:

Sunshine Cleaning has that "Sundance" vibe, in that it feels overly developed and tested for a bittersweet 'indie" feel and for maximum quirkiness.

August 28, 2009 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Driven by top-tier performances from Adams and Blunt, Sunshine Cleaning is a charming dramedy that lifts the dirt on life and death.

August 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Moviedex

Shows there's nothing indie dramedies can't turn into faux-regional quirk

August 25, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

Not entirely insubstantial, even as the bulk evaporates from the mind.

August 25, 2009 Full Review Source:

The sort of movie you root for, hoping it'll break through to be something special. It never quite does, but it still has the not-insignificant value of two fine actresses cast as sisters. [Blu-ray]

August 20, 2009 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

While it may sound like Little Miss Sunshine's poor relative, or Sundance by-the-numbers, this is an enjoyable, poignant, moving and - yes - funny film in its own right.

August 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Filmstar Magazine

There's close to nothing about this film that isn't contrived, forced and reminiscent of movies that twist themselves into knots to achieve Harold and Maude-like quirky charm.

August 14, 2009 Full Review Source: UGO | Comment (1)

Everything Amy Adams touches turns to gold, and even here where she is playing a character thoroughly down on her luck, she is luminous.

August 10, 2009 Full Review Source: Screenwize

Ultimately, the film is too neat, and too cloyingly sweet to tackle anything resembling real life.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Times [UK] | Comments (2)
Times [UK]

Audience Reviews for Sunshine Cleaning

three stars
June 29, 2014
MisterYoda ?

Super Reviewer

Another well-portrayed Amy Adams character lights up this bleak slice of life, and the story about taking pride in yourself and your work shines through. With the hand they've been dealt, the Norkowski sisters (Adams, as Rose, and Emily Blunt as Nora) have every right to lie down and give up, but when an unorthodox opportunity knocks - an opportunity to go into business cleaning up violent crime scenes - the sisters relaunch themselves, and turn their lives in the right direction, though things can't stay sunny the whole way... can they? It's a decent movie overall, tugging hard (sometimes too hard) on our proverbial heartstrings, and leaving a few major questions unanswered, but it's a realistic, somewhat uplifting piece with an edge. A nice surprise.
November 19, 2011

Super Reviewer

A very good film in the vein of such films as Little Miss Sunshine, Sunshine Cleaning is a charming and funny drama comedy film with a good cast. The film has a great story and the actors deliver wonderful, amusing performances. Sunshine Cleaning is the perfect example of an Indie film gets it right, using a simple story. Most indie films try to go overboard with the dialogue, story and acting, but Sunshine Cleaning has a perfect balance of everything that makes a good little film. This may not be a perfect film, however for the most part; it's a wonderfully executed film with great performances by Amy Adams and Emily Blunt. Along with King of California, Sunshine Cleaning is one of the best indie comedies to come out in quite some time. I very much enjoyed this film, and thought that the story was just great. The film succeeds on all levels at being a well rounded out drama comedy, and with the performances alone by the cast, Sunshine Cleaning is worth seeing. If you happen to come across this film at your local video store, give it a rent, you'll be surprised at how good it is. Sunshine Cleaning is a great little comedy film that blends dramatic elements very well. I thought that the story though a bit slow had enough momentum to keep me intrigued and entertained. If you're looking for a great indie comedy, give Sunshine Cleaning a view, this is a film worth watching. Brilliantly acted and directed.
October 29, 2011
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

The comparison between this tragic-comedy and "Little Miss Sunshine" is not entirely unjustified. Here we also have very lovable yet slightly dysfunctional characters, Alan Arkin is even reprising his role as (not quite as grumpy) grandpa. The two leading ladies easily fill their roles with life, easily making you care for their little business idea of cleaning up death sites. The biggest surprise of the film is Clifton Collins, who mostly played gangsters and killers so far and delivers a really likable performance as one-armed clerk. The script is smart, sweet and sad, but never takes it too far with the quirkiness. Even though nothing insanely exciting happens it is fun to follow those characters around for a while and you can't help but wish them nothing but the best. sadly, the film ends somewhat abruptly, when you would have seen a bit more of a solution for them. Still, very entertaining and lovable.
September 19, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Rose Norkowski: Yeah. I do. Um, we come into people's lives when they have experienced something profound - and sad. And they've lost somebody, you know? And um, the circumstances, they're always different. But that's the same. And we help. In some small way we, um, we help.
    – Submitted by Sami A (20 months ago)
    1. Lynn: How'd she die?
    2. Norah Norkowski: It was sorta a do-it-yourself thing?
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Rose Norkowski: There's not a lot that I am good at. But I'm good at getting guys to want me. Not date me, or marry me, but want me.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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