Saturday, 27 September 2014

Review: Labor Day (2013)

I had forgotten all about wanted to see this when it was on at the cinema so when I saw it on the selections on my recent flight to the States, I jumped at the chance.  I have loved Josh Brolin since his first outing as Brand in the Goonies and Kate Winslet has to be one of my top 10 favourite actresses (see if I remember that when I actually do the top 10 post). 

Labor Day was one of those films where I see the trailer, tell myself that it looks great and I should see it, then forget about it for a year until I bump into the DVD at a store somewhere! I'm glad Jenna reviewed it because that was my final push to see it.

Tobey Maguire narrates this film as the older version of Henry who lives with his damaged mother Alele (Kate Winslet), who, although it's never stated, is clearly suffering from crippling depression and anxiety that has slowly taken over her life.  She is scared to drive her car and going to the supermarket is incredibly traumatic for her. Cue Frank (Josh Brolin), an escaped convict who forces them to take him home until he can rest his injuries from jumping out of a hospital window.  A nervous Adele agrees and nurses him back to health, allowing him to stay longer than either of them intended. Frank becomes the partner Adele craves and the father figure that Henry desperately needs.

I am a shameless romantic so films like this are perfect for me but that's not the only reason I loved it.  The main part of the story is told in chronological order, however the flashbacks to both Adele and Frank's pasts are told in fleeting images, that build and grow throughout the film so you only know the whole story of their pasts once you get to the end of the film.  It's really cleverly shot and so different to anything I had seen before.  Plus, this film is quite slow in pace so the flashback images break it up and keep you interested throughout.

At one point I actually wondered if the flash-backs were actually flash-forwards to Henry's life, but as the actor in the flash-backs aged I realised he was definitely meant to be Frank. I agree that the film itself is very slow, and yet at no point was I bored in the slightest. The slow pacing actually worked really well.

Brolin and Winslet are both amazing in this film, many scenes have no words just slight shifts in movements and they manage to tell a whole story with just that.  Winslet's portrayal of the fragile Adele is incredible, she used subtlety over big gestures which makes the panic and fear feel so much more real, in many scenes she uses one look to indicate how Adele is feeling and it's so powerful.

I haven't seen much work from either Brolin or Winslet but I thought they did a cracking job in this, Winslet in particular.

Hopeless romantic or not, you may actually like this film.  It's slow paced but at no point boring and Brolin and Winslet are at their best.

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I did, and although I won't say what happened, the ending was incredible. I shed a tear or two, and I would recommend Labor Day to anyone who's a fan of romantic films.


  1. Great review ladies, you both like it a lot more than I did. I was disappointed.