Movie Review – Labor Day (2013)

Director: Jason Reitman

Stars: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Clark Gregg, Maika Monroe

Adele (Winslet) and Henry (Griffith) are out shopping when they encounter a wounded man, Frank (Brolin). He has a threatening air about him and forces them to take them back to his house. Eventually they realize that he’s an escaped convict, in prison for murder no less, yet they find themselves bonding with him. Adele is reminded of family life and they soon start planning to leave, but Henry is worried about being left behind.

Winslet is a great actress and she portrays Adele with nuance. Here is a woman who has all but given up on life. The fire has gone, and left an empty shell. Henry too knows this, and he tries his best to be enough family for Adele but he can only fill the role of the son. When Frank enters the picture there’s almost an instant change in Adele, but it plays over the rest of the weekend as they grow closer. She rediscovers the joy of living and the three of them start to remember what being a family is like. Things are different for Henry though. He still has his biological father so he’s not as wrapped up in isolation as Adele, and as such he has more doubts about their plan.

Brolin and Winslet have okay chemistry but honestly I found the whole film to be a little bland. I didn’t think Frank was as menacing as the premise promised so the film lacked some tension. It all seemed much ado about nothing really. The romance isn’t one that’s going to be spoken about through the ages, and aside from that there’s not much else to the story. The idea of Adele finding joy in life again is nice but it’s not something that took hold of my emotions. The film felt relaxed for the most part with a languid pace that fit the hazy summer setting but it didn’t fit with the intense, rousing emotions I think the film wanted to stir within.

Labor Day isn’t something I’m going to recommend. I like films with a good romance but I like them to be enthralling. This one just petered out and didn’t do anything for me.

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