Labor Day (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/10/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 111 mins

Jason Reitman's latest film is an emotionally engaging and suspenseful blend of thriller, romance and coming-of-age story with a strong script and a trio of terrific performances from Winslet, Brolin and newcomer Gattlin Griffith.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jason Reitman, Labour Day is based on the novel by Joyce Maynard and stars Kate Winslet as Adele, a depressed and reclusive single mother who has retreated from the world since the breakdown of her marriage and lives alone with her 12 year old son Henry (Gattlin Griffith). While on a rare shopping trip to the supermarket, they meet Frank (Josh Brolin), a wounded man, who persuades Adele to drive him back to their house and let him rest there for a while.

Frank immediately informs Adele and Henry that he's an escaped convict and that the police will be looking for him, in which case he may need to tie them up so they can claim he kidnapped them. However, over the course of the five day Labour Day weekend, both Adele and Henry begin to warm to Frank in unexpected ways.

The Good
Winslet is on typically excellent form as Adele, delivering a heart-breaking performance as a broken woman who's never recovered from the loss of love in her life and who suddenly finds unexpected romance. Brolin is equally good as kind-hearted Frank (the world's nicest convicted murderer) and newcomer Gattlin Griffith is a revelation as young Henry, perfectly conveying the cusp of wide-eyed innocence and the gradual dawning of adult experience; there's also strong support from Clark Gregg (as Henry's remarried and still local father) and Brighid Fleming as Henry's love interest, while Tom Lipinski (as young Frank in flashbacks) looks so much like Brolin that you suspect the filmmakers of digital trickery.

The script skilfully combines elements of thriller, romance, melodrama and coming-of-age story and it's to Reitman's credit that the film delivers on each of those levels. In particular, Reitman maintains a powerfully engaging, hold-your-breath-suspenseful atmosphere throughout – the three main characters essentially begin to live in their own perfect world (coincidentally, the film strongly resembles Clint Eastwood's underrated A Perfect World) and you start to fear every knock on the door which could shatter it.

The Great
Reitman also packs the film with a number of unexpectedly delightful scenes that in the wrong hands could have backfired horribly – for example, Frank turns out to be a surprisingly excellent baker and there's a beautifully shot pie-making sequence that will a) make you very hungry for pie and b) make you wish you had scribbled down all Frank's pie-making tips.

Worth seeing?
Labour Day is a well made and superbly acted blend of thriller, romance, coming-of-age story and melodrama that is by turns suspenseful, charming and deeply moving. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Labor Day (12A)
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Content updated: 25/06/2017 09:35

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