Film Review: Labor Day

Labor Day

Jason Reitman’s Labor Day is a finely executed drama, and compelling viewing.

Depressed single mother Adele lives with her teenage son Henry. When a stranger asks for a ride from the supermarket, Adele acquiesces to his request, little realising he is an escaped convict…

Labor Day is a superb drama that delivers a fascinating story, well drawn characters, and moments of genuine emotion, warmth and tension.

Reitman’s screenplay, based on the novel by James Maynard’s novel, ticks along wonderfully. The narrative intersperses action over a holiday weekend with flashbacks. This works well to slowly reveal more about the two protagonist as the audience are invited to get to know them. The narration from Henry’s point of view works well to paint a picture of both an overview of the situation in relation to his mother and his feelings towards Frank and his mother.

The relationships between the characters develop at a suitable pace. The majority of the action takes place over a holiday weekend, yet the increasing feelings between the characters never feels rushed. Labor Day has moments of sweetness and warmth. These never stray into an over-sentimental territory, thanks to Reitman’s writing and directing skills.

Cinematography in Labor Day is memorable. There is a hazy quality to the film which is in keeping with the recollective nature of the film. There is a sweltering atmosphere that is effectively conveyed through cinematography and art direction.

Performances in Labor Day are superb. Kate Winslet is very believable as Adele; the shaky, unconfident quality to her performance endears her more to viewers. Josh Brolin is also great, while Gattlin Griffith is perfectly cast and shines as Henry.

Labor Day is an admirable that reinforces Jason Reitman’s place as a great director and screenwriter.

Labour Day is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013.