REVIEW: “Labor Day” Movie Starring Kate Winslet & Josh Brolin

We recently had a chance to see a screening of “Labor Day,” a romantic drama starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. The Paramount Pictures film is set for wide release on January 31, 2014 in the United States.

Directed by Jason Reitman of Juno and Up in the Air, “Labor Day” takes us on a quick journey of a long weekend with a lonely single mother, Adele (Winslet) and her loyal son, Henry, played by Gattlin Griffith. Brolin, as Frank, is an escaped convict who’s desperate charm infiltrates their solemn life.

Griffith is the real surprise in this film. The character of Henry knows his mother is depressed and wittingly lets her depend on him. His reasoning is simple, he loves her and she loves him. It’s this sort of fragile love that can be bruised by people on the outside. Henry manages to keep his father and new family away at a safe distance, yet when a new girl comes into town, her assumptions on his life begin to make him doubt his place as his mother’s son. It’s a quick punch to the gut. One I did not expect to feel.

Brolin and Winslet have a slow burn chemistry. So much so that some scenes felt out of place and a little uncomfortable. In others it felt right and romantic. Their blooming affair feels raw and comfortable. Both have been wounded. Both want to feel secure.

Some of the brightest moments are the ones with Frank and Henry. I think it is fitting that the father/son relationship happened so fast and so trusting. They are harboring this criminal, but they don’t know him as one. There’s a beauty in just trusting someone with your gut.

I found some of the editing a bit jarring. I didn’t like it. There’s also a moment with the neighbor and her own son that was so hard to swallow, it had me reeling even when the film finished.

Still, “Labor Day” is beautifully shot with warm tones and a late 80s feel is captured very realistically. The conclusion is swift, but satisfying. If you’re anything like me when it comes to any type of romance, you’ll need a tissue.

[Rating 7/10]

Opens January 31, 2014
111 Minutes
Rated PG-13
Director: Jason Reitman
Writers: Jason Reitman (screenplay), Joyce Maynard (based on the novel by)
Stars: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith

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