Sunday, February 9, 2014

Movie Review ... Labor Day


labor_day_ver2What exactly constitutes a family?  Is it a mother and father with children or close friends who share everything?  This has been much debated recently with traditional familial lines becoming re-defined.  ‘Labor Day’ effectively explores this increasing conundrum.  Based on Joyce Maynard’s novel showing how the ties that bind can suddenly materialise.  Our desire to form strong bonds often highlights our adversity to loneliness and making the most of those around us.

Living with her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith), single mother Adele (Kate Winslet) doesn’t enjoy life in rural America.  Depressed and lonely, her life is suddenly shaken when she meets Frank (Josh Brolin).  An escaped convict, he takes refuge in Adele’s house.  Wary of his shady past, she gradually falls for her would-be captor.  Revealing a softer side to his hard demeanour, Frank comes to enjoy being part of a family unit.  When Henry and Adele’s actions cause community suspicion, it’s up to the newly formed family to plan a future they couldn’t have imagined.

Directed by Jason Reitman, ‘Labor Day’ discards the usual romantic drama formula.  Allowing words and actions to move the story instead of melodramatic music enables the viewer to become involved.  Adele and Frank are both prisoners in their own way – trapped by circumstances and prevented from moving forward.  Their blossoming relationship allows wounds to heal and find much needed emotional peace.  Henry finds his own life altered with Frank’s arrival giving him the father figure he has craved.

It’s the character’s desires driving ‘Labor Day’s central idea.  Their desperation in maintaining their new bonds has the potential to further damage their lives.  The lead trio give believable and under-stated performances with their character’s back-stories movingly told.  The authenticity in Reitman’s self-penned screenplay and direction effectively brings the small-town mind-set to the surface.  How Frank and Adele deal with their attitudes adds another intriguing layer to their relationship.

It’s refreshing seeing a romance movie free of over-ripe histrionics spoiling similar films.  ‘Labor Day’ makes much of a simple premise with its examination of a complex connection making it worth anyone’s time.

LD-03295RCC	Photo credit:  Dale Robinette

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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