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- Labor Day (2013) reviewed by Kelby Schaeffler
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Labor Day (2013)
Cast: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Tom Lipinski, Maika Monroe, Clark Gregg, James Van Der Beek, J.K. Simmons, Brooke Smith, Brighid Fleming, Alexie Gilmore, Lucas Hedges, Micah Fowler
Director: Jason Reitman
Synopsis: Young Henry Wheeler’s (Gattlin Griffith) painfully fragile mother, Adele Wheeler (Kate Winslet), suffers from depression and anxiety after Henry’s father left her some years ago. While on a back-to-school shopping trip, injured and suspicious-looking Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin) coerces them into taking him to their home, where a news anchor on the television makes clear his real identity: an escaped convict facing 20 years for murder. After hiding out for the night, Frank begins to do chores around the house, cook and clean, and even teach Henry to catch a baseball, quickly proving his benevolence to Adele, who begins to fall in love with him.
Reviewer’s Rating: 3.5/5 Reels
In a world of unoriginal movie plots, director and writer Jason Reitman successfully produces a captivating and thrilling film with a new and innovative story. Based on Joyce Maynard’s novel of the same name, Labor Day makes viewers smile, gasp, and sit anxiously on the edge of their seats.
Kate Winslet fantastically plays her shaky character who can no longer perform even menial tasks. Josh Brolin also portrays his character perfectly, with his ruggedly dangerous appearance and serious composure. Gattlin Griffith perfectly portrays the pre-teen purity of Henry Wheeler, who, no longer carrying the burden of caring for his mother, begins navigating the idea of sexuality throughout the film.
Given the background of heartbroken and delicate Adele, the unexpected and odd love story between she and Frank is believable and heart-warming. Their slow-building love leaves viewers continuously wondering if Frank is dangerous. Does he plan to fill in the husband and father role for the Wheelers or will he become malicious? The cheesiness of the whole murderer-is-actually-an-innocent-baker-and-handyman thing could turn some off to this film. A bit corny? Oh, yes. But just enough to give you warm tingly butterflies. As Frank gently and sweetly molds his hands to Adele’s while kneading peach pie dough, audiences experience the long awaited loving touch that filled an aching void in Adele’s heart.
After Adele and Henry feel sure that Frank’s presence does not threaten them, the plot depicts an unlikely new family battling the police and the neighbors to live together in secrecy and find happiness. Two people incapable of facing the outside world, Adele and Frank find joy and comfort together within the confines of Adele’s small and humble home.
Perhaps the most enthralling aspect of the film is the tension throughout its entirety. Will Frank violently murder Adele and Henry? Will he marry Adele and become Henry’s father? Will the police find him and re-incarcerate him? Will Henry have sex with the cute new blonde girl in town? The suspenseful questions are endless and persist throughout the film. The structure of the film, with the interspersed flashbacks to Adele’s divorce and Frank’s life before prison, lends to its suspenseful storyline. The flashbacks amp up the film, slowly revealing more and more of Frank’s story as viewers are left dying to know how he ended up in prison.
Labor Day’s brilliant acting and innovative plotline makes it a must-see movie of the year. Viewers will leave with joy, relief from the suspense they have felt for the past two hours, and even some new cooking tips. What’s not to love?
By: Kelby Schaeffler