Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Review: Labor Day

Love's labor not lost

By Morris Dean

"Labor Day" (2013, directed by Jason Reitman, starring Kate Winslet & Josh Brolin) afforded my wife and me a satisfying movie-watching experience for Friday night, courtesy of our local library.
    The Internet Movie Database's blurb serves as an accurate workable summary:
Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn...[cut off here so as not to reveal more than some might want to know].
    Adele's situation, which is revealed through flashbacks of her meeting and wedding Henry's father and through scenes of the father's new family, who live in the same town, won immense sympathy from me and my wife, especially given Kate Winslet's convincing portrayal of this quiet-spoken, indulgent mother.
    When a man (Frank) approaches Henry in the grocery story with blood on his right temple and signs of bleeding in his right abdomen, it's understandable that Henry would like to help the man, especially when Frank forthrightly answers Henry's question about what happened by telling him that he jumped from a 2nd-story hospital window after having surgery for appendicitis.
    But when Adele, though hesitant at first, agrees to give Frank a ride...and let him come into their house, it's not quite so understandable that an adult could be so trusting as to put herself and her son in an extremely vulnerable position.
    But Frank's manipulation is subtle and incremental – and he does seem so forthright, even letting them know in the car that he has escaped from prison – so we were willing to accept what was happening. And, of course, Adele's going along revealed something important about her, perhaps including her ability to read in Frank someone who won't hurt her or her son. But, as we watched this scene unfold, the menace that even a "forthright" Josh Brolin displayed made us quite uncomfortable. Hats off to Jason Reitman for hitting the right notes, as he continues to do scene after scene.
    The plot of course requires that Frank take up residence for the few days including the weekend before Labor Day so that....
    Again, I'm loathe to reveal more, preferring to let anyone interested in seeing this touching but not sappy film have a go at it with only a little less preparation than my wife and I had going into the rewarding experience of watching Labor Day. And, well, Labor Day 2014 is just around the corner....

Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean


  1. With films like this on loan from your public library, why go to movie theaters, unless you just have to have a $5 bucket of artificially flavored popcorn?

  2. Back in the day going to the movies was a cheap date---now it's a car payment.