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Archive for the ‘Labor Day’ Category

Labor Day

Labor Day Poster.jpgIf you would have asked my 3-4 years ago who the five best directors making films were Jason Reitman would have been on that list.  He did nothing but strike gold with his first three films Thank You For Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air.  Then came Young Adult…which I loathed with a passion.  I could however appreciate what he was shooting for, and I know a lot of people who loved it.  Agree to disagree.  Now comes his fifth film Labor Day and honestly I’m left scratching my head as to why in the world he would make this film.  A film so dry, so formulaic, so boring, and so poorly written it had me consistently looking at my watch.

Labor Day stars Kate Winslet as Adele, a mother who deals with severe anxiety problems.  Her husband left her for his secretary, and her 13 year old son Henry does everything for her.  He watches over her.  He tries to be a surrogate husband, but there are some husband-ly duties that he cannot fill.  There is this underlying theme of understanding the difference between sexuality and love, and Henry’s role in growing up before our eyes, as well as Adele’s complete lack of sexuality.

One day while shopping for groceries Adele and Henry run in to Frank (Josh Brolin), an escaped convict that needs their help. He jumped out of a second floor prison hospital window, after having his appendix removed.  Reluctantly they bring Frank back to their house to help hide him for the evening while he heals from his injuries.  One evening soon turns in to days, and during that time they realize that Frank is a good man. He helps around the house.  He’s kind to Adele and Henry, and soon Henry sees him as a father figure, and Adele sees him as a potential lover.  We learn how Frank ended up in prison through a series of Terence Malick inspired flashbacks.  Frank made a mistake when he was younger.  One mistake that changed his life forever.

Labor Day plays like a bad Nicholas Sparks adaption on the screen.  Oh love in the face of danger, and society will keep these two apart…Woe is me!  This is what surprises me the most.  Reitman is known for such unique, quirky films in the vein of Alexander Payne, and he decides to adapt this?  I have not read the book, but I’m betting it’s a cheesy novel.

My problem with Labor Day is that there is a better film to be made here, and Reitman should know that.  Near the end of the film there are a few really powerful moments that I wish the whole film was about, and instead we just get a little glimpse of a better story and it keeps you wanting more.  Reitman himself admitted that this is vastly different from his other films and realized it is a complex drama that he may not nail this time around.  First of all there’s nothing complex about the film.  If anything it’s a little too simple and ridiculous at times.  Secondly it looks like he was right about not nailing it.

Grade: C-