Title – Labor Day (2013)
Director – Jason Reitman (Up In the Air)
Cast – Josh Brolin, Kate Winslet, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire
Plot – When isolated single mum Adele (Winslet) and her loyal son Henry (Griffith) take into their home escaped prison inmate Frank (Brolin) their lives change forever.
“I don’t think losing my father broke my mother’s heart, but rather losing love itself”
Review by Eddie on 17/11/2014
Labor Day is very much a change of pace (a much slower pace at that) for director Jason Reitman who in his short career behind the camera has made a name for himself directing quite snarky and at times quality dramedys. That Labor Day features not an ounce of genuine wit is just one of its many flaws in a tale that squanders an opportunity to create any type of emotional sparks.
In the telling of Joyce Maynard’s story Reitman has made the cardinal sin of tailoring a film that never once feels like it is going anywhere fast, a slow moving and wholly predictable affair that culminates in one of the worst final acts you’re likely to see in some time. The film certainly looks pretty but there is only so far a story largely played out within an old weatherboard house can take you and our central protagonist in Henry played by Griffith is just not strong enough to make us care about both the child and our adult narrator voiced by the ever recognisable Toby Maguire. Labor Day also needed more from its two experienced leads to get it through some pretty murky material.
Both Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet have showed countless times over their careers that they’re capable of portraying a character with both charisma and smarts but here sadly both are severely lacking in both stakes. Brolin plays escaped criminal Frank with a gruffness that never leaves while Winslet seems to be playing some type of alternate take on her Revolutionary Road character that here comes off as pretty unlikeable despite some genuine affection being felt for her Adele once we understand the root of her sadness. Moments within the film are supposed to show us a bond between these two lost souls, whether it’s a heated pie making experience or a game of baseball in the backyard but believability is almost shot away completely when this romance takes place over a couple of days.
Many aspects of Labor Day either feel forced or utterly unbelievable – elements such as Frank just wondering about outside fixing the house as the whole towns police force search for him just one example – and a story that should of mixed in a coming of age tale with a genuinely affecting romance, merely becomes a watchable yet instantly forgettable journey with some miss-timed direction by director Reitman.
2 far from normal pie making experiences out of 5