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article imageReview: ‘Labor Day’ is a labour of love Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jan 31, 2014 in Entertainment
In ‘Labor Day,’ a depressed single mother and her son offer a ride to injured man being sought by police, but as they learn more about him their options become limited.
Dry, sweltering heats seem to be the perfect setting for forbidden romances; especially those that are to be reflected upon years later with maturity and hindsight. Labor Day is such a love story, told from the perspective of a man who as a boy witnessed two unlikely people fall in love.
Adele (Kate Winslet) suffers from severe depression that confines her to her home with the exception of a supply run once a month. Her son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith), does his best to fill the void his father (Clark Gregg) left, but there are some things a child cannot provide a mother. A convict injured during his escape, Frank (Josh Brolin) is desperate to get off the streets and sees the pair as an opportunity for sanctuary. A request to lay low until nightfall is followed by another night and another. Over the course of a few days trapped in the house together, Frank and Adele fall for each other and Henry finally sees true joy in his mother's heart again.
Writer/director Jason Reitman tends to put a couple of years between pictures as he assembles the perfect team to bring to life a carefully selected story. This film shows a maturity in his filmmaking and as a man. His portrayal of the couple is tender. They are both scarred by past experiences, but also yearn for the affections of another person. Their union gently unfolds for the camera with a kind gesture, followed by a brush of the skin, and then a soft touch. Reitman flawlessly captures their loneliness and then replaces it with passion. The earth tones and warm lighting in most scenes allows their love to be the brightest thing on the screen.
Brolin and Winslet have a wonderful chemistry together. She is so withdrawn at the start that even as she allows herself to open up, the shadow of the introvert forever lurks beneath her actions. He is simultaneously threatening and considerate as he makes demands while trying not to appear frightening. But when they look at each other, even before they realize there's something there, a hint of it can be seen in their eyes. And for a young actor, Griffith really seems to understand the underlying emotions that drive the narrative. As Tobey Maguire's voiceover looks back at the events of that long weekend, Griffith portrays the boy's cautious support flawlessly.
The romance avoids being mushy or overly dramatic, while the threat of capture is ever present but not overwhelmingly tense. Much has been made about the pie-making scene, though it’s actually just a small instance in a profounder narrative. The film runs a little long at nearly two hours, but the delicate tale maintains its charm even in the sections that could have been tightened.
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and Gattlin Griffith
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