“Labor Day” is a film that tows the line between forgettable and somewhat memorable. It all depends on if you’re willing to lose yourself in the characters and story that director Jason Reitman displays.
Josh Brolin is Frank, an escaped convict who kidnaps single mother Adele (Kate Winslet) and her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) from the local grocery store. With a cut to his stomach and damage to his leg, Frank thinks that by going to their home he can buy time to rest and dodge the police. Honestly, the movie would have been over if Adele would have just screamed but that wouldn’t make a feature film right?
As the trio spends the first day together a few things are made clear. The first is that Frank seems to be a genuinely good human being. He’s honest, polite, and can cook a mean pot of chilli. Adele, who has suffered with a crippling depression, is equally hungry for love. Young Henry just wants a father figure in his life after his walked out and remarried. The combination of damaged characters becomes a powder keg for melodrama.
So on one side we have a very implausible situation, but on the other a beautiful story about the definition of family. After all, family isn’t always defined by DNA. It’s loving and caring for one another in spite of our flaws that makes a family. (Just to name a couple of things.) Reitman shows the beauty of family through the interaction and special moments shared by this makeshift family over the course of the Labor Day weekend.
The cast does a solid job in their performances and Reitman has a rhythmic pace to the film. “Labor Day” isn’t as great as some of Reitman’s previous films, in fact it feels a little disjointed. Yet, if given the proper once over there is something beautiful and deeper that might be missed. I’d wait for this to come out on DVD though.