Excerpt: Jason Reitman’s meticulous direction and Eric Steelberg’s poetic cinematography transform a routine case of Stockholm Syndrome into a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful love story. As with Reitman’s past films (Juno, Up in the Air), production values achieve a very high standard, best demonstrated when Frank teaches Adele and Henry how to make a peach pie.
Excerpt: Labor Day begins in 1987 when a young boy named Henry (Gattlin Griffith) runs into Frank (Josh Brolin) at a store one day. Frank is bleeding and just so happens to be an escaped convict. After he asks Henry and his mom Adele (Kate Winslet) to take him to their house, they’re not so keen on the idea. He shows them the gun he’s carrying and, now they have no choice but to take him along. Frank insists he means no harm and only wishes to rest before getting on his way.
Summary: The director Jason Reitman (son of Ivan) has given us edgy and relevant films for many years now. His resume includes Juno, Thank You for Smoking, Up in the Air , and Young Adult . The story here doesn’t have that cynical edge that the other films had. Labor Day is a story that takes place in 1987 in a small town about a more traditional time and place than the other films.
Excerpt: It can't be easy being a second-generation Hollywood filmmaker. People immediately want to write those directors off as benefiting from traditional Hollywood nepotism. The path to success through that difficulty seems to be not doing whatever your parents did. Sofia Coppola's five films to date have succeeded because she established her own voice, one that bears no resemblance whatsoever to any of Francis Ford Coppola's films.
Conclusion: 'Labor Day' got unfairly criticized as far as I'm concerned. The "pie scene" was singled out and taken out of context. Within the context of the film it’s a complicated dance of tension and sweetness. Much of this film is complex and intriguing. The ending really pulls the rug out though, which is too bad. Though it's still recommended with such high video and audio scores.
Conclusion: Labor Day is one of the best films of 2013 and something of an under-the-radar and, it would seem, slightly under-appreciated gem of storytelling, technical craftsmanship, and thespianism. The film is oddly, but alluringly, unique, dark yet touching, dangerous yet comforting, weaving together a story of budding romance against a backdrop of past hardships that have brought two unlikely potential soul mates together.
Conclusion: Trashed by critics and avoided by moviegoers, Labor Day is far from the disaster you might expect it to be. Yes, the film is sincere and short on cynicism. And yes, it has an outrageous premise to sell us on. But it manages to pull it off with terrific direction, arresting atmosphere, and great performances. While it may not stand up to last December's award contenders, it is several notches above the usually wretched January and pre-Valentine's Day fare.
Conclusion: In Labor Day Jason Reitman provides ample opportunity for his leads to shine and while they do well, they seem to be let down by the final act, which suffers from pacing problems, and faults in execution and the source material. Technically, the disc looks and sounds great, and the bonus material while minimal, is effective in its complement to the film.
Excerpt: Your opinion of Jason Reitman's fifth film and third adaptation--this one based on the 2009 novel by Joyce Maynard--may depend heavily on whether you can accept how different an animal "Labor Day" is from Reitman's previous four films, getting away from the humor and dark comedy he's done so well and delving straight into heavy drama.