Director Jason Reitman takes a solemn turn in the romantic drama “Labor Day.” Known for directing “Up in the Air,” “Juno” and “Thank You for Smoking,” Reitman usually produces cheerful movies. “Labor Day,” on the other hand, is serious, somber and intense with a touch of innocence.
This story focuses on a divorced single mother and her son who are forced to harbor a fugitive. The three days spent over Labor Day weekend show the convict filling the missing piece of the broken family. Adele (Kate Winslet) falls in love with Frank (Josh Brolin), who claims he was wrongfully accused, and his story is told in flashbacks. It reveals a depth of character that remains even after his years in prison.
The audience cannot blame Adele for coming to love him. He cooks for her, fixes things around the house and fulfills her in a way only a soul mate can. He even acts as a father figure to her son Henry, played by Gattlin Griffith and Tobey Maguire. Henry plays an important role in this film; we see the love story play out through his perspective.
The sorrowful family story is underscored by constant low, solemn music. The tone of the movie, from the perspective of a pre-teen boy going through his own sexual awakening, takes it to an unexpected place. Some may see the attempt as artistic, but others might call it creepy.
With so many remakes of old movies and predictable ideas for new ones, it is easy to see why this original idea might liven up a typical romantic drama. However, the boy’s fantasies, while he is discovering what it means to be a man, bordered on superficial, which detracted from the love story.
This film might appeal to romantics and, perhaps, sensitive teenage boys. However, I recommend waiting until it shows up on television; “Labor Day” is something to watch on a rainy Sunday with nothing else to do.
Emily Balan can be reached at email@example.com.