3 items from 2014
Were it better, Labor Day might well strike a seductive chord for romantics: a dreamy escaped convict hovers over a mother and son he’s taken hostage over a holiday weekend. One so full of love, cooking, and romance, it will change their lives forever. But the film, based on the Joyce Maynard novel, is so trapped in a dreary Nicolas Sparks-style cliche-ridden universe that we know the entire plot from the start to the over-sentimental climax. Labor Day stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, two usually solid actors, but they’re wasted as Labor Day neither raises the pulse nor unintentionally entertains and while some may eat this mush up, most will see it as a tremendous disappointment from writer/director Jason Reitman (of Juno and Up In The Air fame).
Labor Day centers on 13-year-old Henry Wheeler, who cares for his mopey, reclusive mother Adele (Winslet) after his »
- Tom Stockman
Written and directed by Jason Reitman
It’s all too fitting that, at one point midway through Labor Day, two of the lead characters are sitting in front of a TV, watching a network broadcast of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This film’s writer-director, Jason Reitman, no doubt has been inspired throughout his career by Spielberg, as so many younger directors have been. But more importantly, the alien behavior that so inflames the imagination of the characters populating Close Encounters is analogous to the completely outlandish and illogical behavior exhibited throughout Labor Day, a mawkish and painfully sincere melodrama that’s mere inches away from being an outright parody of the Nicholas Sparks subgenre of recent years.
- Josh Spiegel
Director Jason Reitman broke through in the business with an impressive trio of sharply written stories about colourful, independent characters – Thank You for Smoking, Juno and Up in the Air. Although these first features will ensure Reitman keeps a good batting average as he moves forward, the director is starting to scale back into less inspired choices. Case in point: Labor Day, a dopey and implausible drama about a woman’s Stockholm syndrome that is one third intimate Alice Munro and two thirds a Nicholas Sparks treacle.
It is perplexing to think about what Reitman saw in Joyce Maynard’s best-selling piece of domestic sap, or what Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin found on his page that drew them into these incompletely drawn characters. Although Labor Day is made with skill and performed with full-bodied conviction, the film features one of the strangest big-screen romances in recent memory, one overwrought »
- Jordan Adler
3 items from 2014
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