Film Review: Labor Day

Kate Winslet (Titanic, Little Children) stars as reclusive divorcee and single mother Adele in this evocative tale of love and loss. Josh Brolin (Old Boy/No Country for Old Men) plays escaped convict Frank, who hijacks her life, home and heart over one Labor Day weekend. Adele’s thirteen year old son Henry has been the man of the house ever since his father left them and re-married.

The narration of the story via a grown up Henry (Tobey Maguire) is effective in preparing the audience for the catharsis the characters will go through as the narrative develops. Winslet is excellent in her portrayal of Adele, a woman who is essentially a shell of her former self due to the rejection of her ex-husband and a descent into deep depression. She craves the love that she once had and simply wants to feel the touch of another human being. When Frank enters her life Adele is not prepared for the mark he will leave on her and her son over the few days he spends with them.

There is nothing predictable about this film, if you think it is going to go in a certain direction you are most likely mistaken. The unspoken desire felt between Frank and Adele is captivating to watch. They are both characters in desperate need of saving; Adele from her loneliness and fear of the outside world, Frank of his intense guilt regarding his past. Henry also develops a strong bond with Frank as he acts as the surrogate father figure around the house, teaching him how to fix things and playing ball games. The stern convict and criminal we are first introduced to is not the man we see at the end of the film.

As the film progresses more is revealed about the lives of Frank and Adele, including how Frank came to be a prisoner. There are some shocking truths revealed to the audience that I certainly wasn’t expecting. Overall this was an enjoyable watch and had some extremely emotional scenes. The ending felt somewhat abrupt and wasn’t entirely satisfying, but it’s hard to see what other direction the film could have taken. It’s well worth a watch even if it’s just for the great on-screen chemistry between Winslet and Brolin.

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