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I attended the premiere of Labor Day at the Toronto International Film
Festival. Most people walked in expecting a Juno/Up in the Air style
comedy and if that's what you expect you'll be mildly surprised. The
film is darker that Reitman's usual works though you still recognize
the director's touch.
The movie tells the story of Adele (Kate Winslet), a woman who slowly shut herself off from the world, relying heavily on her young son Henry (Gattlin Griffith), whose father abandoned them to another wife and other children. Enters a menacing escaped convict (Josh Brolin) who finds refuge with Adele and her son as he tries to remain hidden from the police.
The summary will have you believe that 'the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.' or that the family realizes they're now prisoners in their own home which makes it sound like the movie is going to be some sort of Panic Room 2 but the story is nothing like that. As Adele and her son get to know the prisoner, they both find the family they've been longing for.
It's a beautiful story despite being somewhat implausible but I found what mattered wasn't the story we see, so much as witnessing the characters finally having a shot at happiness and how the remainder of their days is shaped by this weekend they spent together. This film isn't driven by dialogue as much as Reitman's other films were. The director has said in interviews that he found it challenging to do a movie where there was little dialogue (he actually said without music or dialogue and I walked in half expecting to see a silent film.) He worked around it by having Tobey Maguire narrate the film as an older Henry. The narration works though I think the film could have done without it as well. Don't let the whole 'silent' thing keep you from seeing this film, I found there was enough dialogue, and there is music as well though unlike Juno it doesn't play as a whole hipster soundtrack.
The movie is more subtle yet more raw, slower than his usual films and it lets the actors take us through every emotion. Kate Winslet is a terrific actress and she gave a beautiful performance as Adele, very convincingly portraying a woman who's given up on living. Josh Brolin was great as well, giving us both a tough convict and a soft hearted man at times. Gattlin Griffith was great at a kid who grew up faster than he should. I'm always very iffy when it comes to child actors but he pulled it off very well.
In conclusion, Labor Day is a different, more adult and more mature film from Jason Reitman. It's a nice transitions from his previous comedies and goes a bit deeper than his other films, bringing tension, tears and some laughs. Whether you're already a Reitman fan or not, I recommend this film, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Labor Day is an unbelievably gorgeous mood piece, a finely-tuned film
which is strongly driven by senses and emotions over plot or story.
It's arguably one of the best films of 2013.
I haven't seen a Reitman film since Juno so I haven't caught up. So I'm not sure where he matured from a 'good' director of a quirky script to an 'art' director who can carry an entire film on his shoulders. That's not to say everyone else in this film didn't do a great job. But the film works because of Reitman's meticulous vision.
Heavy use of cross-fades, editing driven by emotional undercurrent over logic, and some stream-of-consciousness flowing from a mysterious source. The music is avant-garde and beautiful, one moment eerie and unsettling, the next pleasant and lilting. Which reflects the way the film, like a piece of classical music, displays sudden shifts of mood or tonality, back and forth, requiring your utmost concentration and appreciation.
Writing too much else would spoil the fun. But the mindset you should bring this film, should you want to see it, is to give yourself over to the experience, rather than bringing an overly (and unnecessarily) critical mind to it's 'unoriginal' or 'uneventful' plot.
The movie Labor Day stars Kate Winslet, Gattlin Griffith, and Josh
Brolin. When I saw this film yesterday, I was lucky enough to have the
director, Jason Reitman, get up on stage and introduce the movie. He
made it clear that this film was not a comedy, but a romantic drama
that he made with tons of passion. For what it is, I think the film is
amazing. I will warn you, this is a film was made for women, but guys
can appreciate it too.
So this movie was fun to watch. There was a lot of tension, and the actors did a good job of making even the unbelievable situations seem natural. There was a mystery that unfolded over the course of the movie, and the film was able to create real emotion and genuine shock from the audience. There is also great cinematography, nice subplots, and a final quarter that keeps you guessing. I'm not exaggerating any of this, so seriously ignore the critics and give this film a chance.
The main thing that is wrong with the film is a certain level of disbelief, but it doesn't require more suspension of disbelief than any of the big blockbuster movies. It could also get cheesy and a little uncomfortable to watch at times, but it is still a great movie. i hope Jason Reitman continues to make great movies, as he has not made a single misstep in his career yet.
This is a good movie to take a girl to on a date, and I'm sure you both could enjoy it. It is a little like a Nicolas Sparks book except with Oscar level acting, directing, cinematography, and screen writing, so if that sounds like your kind of thing, I highly recommend this movie, and reward it with an 8.7/10 stars.
For a relatively young filmmaker, Jason Reitman is a keen observer and
a skilled storyteller. In "Thank You for Smoking" and "Up in the Air"
he has offered unique and insightful views into the business world, and
in his latest "Labor Day" he continues to intrigue us with a different
subject, a fragmented family that yearns to become full again.
Kate Winslet, Gattlin Griffith, and Josh Brolin bring palpable chemistry as a tired single mother, her whole-world adolescent son, and a ragged man who walks into their life by chance. The somewhat contrived setup is compensated with an intimate observation of these very different characters, as they learn to appreciate and show us precisely what they can do to complement each other. Like other Reitman films, this one has signs of wisdom embedded here and there. There may be a simple quote that comes to greater significance in a later scene, or a plot device that may start making sense when the film is about to finish.
The ending is rather rushed and roughly executed with the older version of Winslet looking eerily lively and the brief appearance of Tobey Maguire that feels superfluous. Still, the meticulous and sensual narrative of the film is so inspirational that, when the film is over, you will find your senses heightened in more ways than one.
Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin star in "Labor Day," a 2013 film directed
by Jason Reitman and also starring Gattlin Griffith and Toby McGuire.
Winslet plays Adele, a divorced woman who has never really recovered from being alone; her husband has remarried, and she lives in a ramshackle house whose interior speaks of her depression. It's a mess, with stuff all over the place. She lives there were her little boy Henry (Griffith). One day, while they're out shopping, Henry meets Frank (Josh Brolin) who asks for a ride. When Henry tells his mother they're giving him a ride, she politely refuses. Frank insists, and sits in the back with Henry. When Adele asks him where he wants to go, he says, "your house." Frank is an escaped convict, and everyone is looking for him. So it doesn't look like they abetted him, he ties Adele and Henry up, planning to leave that evening.
This movie is a great example of how a totally predictable story where not much happens can still be a wonderful film and a work of art - in fact, more of a work of art because it is so predictable and yet manages to hold interest. It's the story of family, of hope, and of love. Both Winslet and Brolin act with incredible sensitivity, and Griffith is adorable as Henry, a good kid who sees his mother's unhappiness and doesn't know how to help her.
It's a sentimental film, but I didn't mind (well, I wouldn't anyway, but I think even people who don't like sentimentalism won't mind it). I found it totally satisfying and romantic, and wasn't at all surprised to hear it's opening on Christmas Day. There is room for all types of films - this is not a huge blockbuster, just a sweet story that fits in well with the spirit of the holidays.
'Labor Day' begins in a broken American household. After his parents'
divorce, a sensitive seventh-grader chooses to stay with his depressed
mother rather than join his father's new family. Henry and Adele remain
trapped in a sad, dysfunctional relationship as a child parenting a
traumatized adult until they embark on a fateful shopping trip prior to
a holiday weekend. They are accosted in a discount store by a
threatening stranger, Frank, who demands they give him a ride in their
car, and accompanies them to their dilapidated rural home. By the next
morning it's apparent he's a dangerous escaped convict, and his
departure has become impossible since a police dragnet has surrounded
After this disturbing first act, the film soon leaves 'Desperate Hours/Straw Dogs' territory in the rear view mirror and enters a sunlit world similar to 'The Bridges of Madison County'. Frank confounds pessimistic expectations by coaching Henry in baseball skills, doing various household odd-jobs, servicing the car and baking peach pies. Before too long he's also healing Adele's aching loneliness with his peachy massage techniques. Fine performances from the three lead actors hold the film together, but can't prevent the story's drift into sentimentality and implausibility. The epilogue stretches any remaining credulity beyond belief as it panders to the feel-good requirements of a rich box-office harvest.
If you're interested in a good adult romantic drama, look no further
than the movie "Labor Day."
Superior acting by Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and young Gattlin Griffith, this is a story with multi- layered depth and haunting flashbacks through dreams ... some viewers might become impatient as the various dream scenes flicker across the movie screen. Just wait, it's all done with amazing dramatic effect, and when the dream scape finally reveals itself, you'll be impressed with the final story.
More importantly, "Labor Day" displays the under utilized message of the impact of relationships, even though the positive results are revealed many years later.
The soundtrack is unusual and haunting, providing a surreal effect on the entire production.
"I'm a lot stronger than you think." "I don't doubt that." Adele and
Director Jason Reitman is no stranger to unusual family stories (Juno) or character drama (Up in the Air), so his enjoyable Labor Day is a bit of both without the humor. Because this is January, a dead-zone time for releases, it's even more impressive as an audience-pleasing drama about an escaped convict Frank (Josh Brolin) and a mother he kidnaps, Adele (Kate Winslet), along with her 7th grade son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith).
Let's get the formula out now: she falls in love with her captor and the son willingly learns about life and baseball. The real life, however, is hounding them as the law closes in on their 5 days of "family" bliss. However, the authorities are too slow to stop the best family pie making scene ever, domestic stuff just one of charming murderer Frank's gifts and a Reitman specialty.
Recently Mud is similarly about the coming of age and criminal motif and Revolutionary Road with Winslet about a disintegrating family. Yet Reitman and novelist Joyce Maynard have crafted a story that slowly makes believable the growing love between captive and captor, a relationship helped by the classy acting chops of Winslet and Brolin. Although everyone knows helping an escaped criminal leads to serious jail time, this case actually cuts Adele a great deal of slack in the guilty category. As Reitman slowly reveals their mutually grim backgrounds, we are aware that her needs for the touch of a lover are so acute that even this gamble could be worth the risk.
Although Labor Day comes close to Nicholas Sparks' sentimental claptrap, Reitman preserves everyone's dignity, lets love grow, and ushers a kid into a complicated world of love and dangera labor of love, so to speak, on the film's titular weekend, typically American and hard work: "I sensed my inadequacy," says the adult Henry in voice over. In matters of the heart, we're all inadequate and need films like Labor Day to help us move on.
I loved the Labor Day script. I read it a few months ago and while I
had doubts about the concept and Jason Reitman at first, it ended up
winning me over within pages. Maybe it's because it was written with
such wit and tenderness, but it's a human story that truly flows with
the emotion delivering the images and intimacy required to express its
ideas, dancing just above sentimentality. Although its story is slight,
it was satisfying and very rich, taking a situation I'm surprised it
hasn't been explored in a more popular film and hitting major themes of
family structures and cycles of life. It truly disappoints me to hear
that people are not only disliking it, but hating it. It feels like
it's being approached from the worst perspective, bracing themselves to
cringe. I'm not exactly a Reitman fan either. I think Juno is terrible
and it took a rewatch to fall in love with Up In The Air after thinking
it was mediocre the first time.
While Labor Day may be far from Reitman's regular tone, in execution it instead highlights his style of energetic and creative cinematography and editing. Like the effect of the script, you can feel the heat and taste the food. Surprisingly, as it's a particularly challenging role given that these types of performances usually struggle, our kid protagonist Gattlin Griffith holds his own among the cast. Kate Winslet is reliably great. These characters seem to be her comfort zone and she's certainly perfected her craft, but we don't often enter her headspace. However, the real standout is Josh Brolin. His performance is the epitome of less-is-more and sells his complex character perfectly. Sinister and cold, yet deep and sensual. The idea that he's doing all the mundane things he hasn't been able to do in decades brings simple delights. It's the measured moments where he cracks that show the breadth of his performance as he breaks down the stereotype of a convict.
Unfortunately, some characters don't work very well, such as kid actors Barry and Eleanor who don't have the conviction to make their scenes work. The flashbacks to Frank's past don't have the same effect as the script despite the eerily similar looking young actor, as they're more confusing than clarifying. Contrary to common complaint, this is not like a lifetime movie. I happened to have watched some recently and they're more concerned with twists and insanity, instead Labor Day is closer to a 1950s domestic melodrama. Think more Far From Heaven than anything. I have a little bias as to how much I like this film, but I walked into the script blind too. Though it need not have had the orchestra swell during the on-the-nose summary lines about what the film's events mean to the characters, Labor Day's emotional punch of two souls bonded by tragic pasts still breaks my heart. I'm just glad Tobey Maguire helped rather than hurt.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Labor Day" is one of the films that the Academy misses every year.
Each year there are better films that are sidelined by lesser films
that make the best picture list. "Labor Day" is one of errors made by
the academy voters for 2013. There are four films on the Best Picture
list I would scratch and replace with this one.
The story takes place over a long Labor Day weekend. Kate Winslet plays Adele. a troubled, divorced mother who is probably clinically depressed. She lives with her son Henry, played by Dylan Minnette at 16, and Toby McGuire as a young man.
Henry is the narrator of the story as his older self, Toby McGuire. The cutting edge of this drama is played by Josh Brolin, who is an escaped prisoner serving a sentence for murder. Brolin's Frank creates a large mixed bag of emotions. He is scary, dangerous, kind, romantic, tender, calm, thoughtful, desperate and talented. In the beginning, Frank takes the family hostage, but Henry and Adele fall in love with their captor. He is a man's man. He repairs things around the house. He knows how to repair the car, wash and wax the floors, and replace lights. And he can cook.
He ties Adele up. Then he feeds her tenderly a dish he has prepared for her which is delicious.
He teaches Henry how to throw a baseball and how to swing a baseball bat. The role of Frank is a great role for an actor, and Brolin is perfect in it. This was an Oscar-worthy performance that the academy missed.
There is no sex on screen but the film bakes in the heat of pent-up sexuality. Adele and Frank are on fire for each other, and there is a odd and funny connection between Henry and a young girl.
Even though the academy missed it, you should not. It is one of the best films for 2013.
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