A sap-fest that’s one part The Fugitive, and one part The Notebook.
After his father walks out, 13-year old Henry stays with his reclusive and grief-stricken mother, Adele. On a routine shopping trip, Henry and his mother are confronted by Frank Chambers, an escaped convict who forces them to take him to their home to hideout from the authorities. But what starts out as a frightening home invasion, quickly becomes ambiguous as the genuinely nice Frank seems to be the furthest thing from a murderer.
Labor Day is hardly Director Jason Reitman’s best film (Juno, Thank You for Smoking). Cynics will surely find it annoying, but the film is surprisingly moving and emotional, when it does work. Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin make this story work better than most actors would have, but it still feels forced and unrealistic. These characters fall so completely and rapturously in love in a matter of only 4 days, that it just doesn’t seem to work.
Labor Day also features a number of uncomfortable scenes that seem to have no point to the overall plot or feel awkwardly out of place. But Labor Day mostly redeems itself, in my opinion. It’s sad, it’s moving, and its heartfelt. But even if you aren’t able to tolerate the incredibly high amount of sentimentality, Labor Day will at least remind you of your love for peach pie.
– Tobey Maguire a weird narrator choice
– The plot rests on shaky sentimentality which some viewers may not even find themselves caring about
– Has there ever been a more uncomfortable pie-making scene in the history of cinema?
Labor Day is a messy romantic drama that works as often as it doesn’t. Cynical viewers will surely find no joy in the film’s sweeping sentimentality, even though it has a few surprisingly emotional scenes and great performances from Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. But it’s hard to get behind the relationship of these two characters when it feels so forced and manipulated by the storytellers.
Labor Day is rated PG-13 for “brief violence and sexuality.” Though it has a few scenes where sex is discussed (and implied between people), nothing really happens onscreen. But even though nothing is shown, the scenes can come off as awkward and uncomfortable for the audience.
© Matt Tory, 2014.