Labor Day Blu-ray Review

Sometimes love is blind. Sometimes love is grand. Sometimes love makes you do crazy things. LABOR DAY gives new meaning to love. This is one of the more ridiculous exercises in love that I have seen.

Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet in Labor Day

Adele (Kate Winslet) is a lonely woman taking care of her seventh grader son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) in a small town in 1987. Her ex-husband has left her for his secretary. She hardly goes out anymore. She is stricken with depression and just upset with what the world has given her. The duo usually makes a trip to the Pricemart for supplies once a month. It is her attempt to be normal in some way. There is pain in Adele’s face and tremors in her hands.

Adele’s life takes a turn for the worse when Frank (James Brolin) approaches her with his hand on Henry demanding that she gives him a ride. There is blood on Frank’s shirt and there is sweat on his brow. Adele doesn’t know the extent of the trouble Frank is in. She just knows that he is threatening Henry and she doesn’t want to get him harmed in any way.

Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet in Labor Day

The title of the film gives you the time period when this all takes place. It is the Labor Day weekend. This is a time for families to get together. We learn that Frank has escaped from the prison hospital where he has being held on charges of murder. Frank’s back story is slowly revealed in flashbacks. When everything is revealed, it still isn’t quite clear what the true picture reveals. That is one of the big problems with LABOR DAY. There is a lot of stuff going on. There’s Adele’s mental state and whether she is going to break down. There is her ex-husband’s role in all of this and his new family. Henry’s burgeoning sexuality is touched upon and of course there is the unlikely romance between Adele and Frank.

Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet in Labor Day

I never did buy into the romance between Adele and Frank. At first Frank is anxious and frantic on what he’s going to do. He ties up Adele for the night, but leaves Henry free to roam. This poses the question on why Henry didn’t do anything here. I guess he was scared and didn’t want to upset Frank in any way.

Frank then gets to some household chores that need to be done. He fixes a door, waxes the floor, works on the car and whatever else that needs to be taken care of. Frank plays catch with Henry outside as well and teaches him life lessons. All these times Frank is outside seems to be a huge risk in him getting caught. Neighbors come by periodically to create anxiety for Frank and amp up the tension in the film. This is born out with the ever intrusive score by Rolfe Kent. The music always is there to make you feel tense or feel romantic. It is quite annoying being spoon fed how you are supposed to feel at various points on the film. The score of any particular movie is supposed to be more organic and more in the background. It wasn’t here.

Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet in Labor Day

The kicker for Adele to fall for Frank is when he cooks for her. There is a long scene involving a pie creation that is a bit silly. It is supposed to be erotic, but how can it be with Henry there as well. Maybe it shows the future with the three as a family. I just don’t know. Adele tends to Frank’s wounds as the authorities look for him.

The ending has the new family trying to go to Canada to escape all of this and the obstacles that spring up. Director Jason Reitman also wrote the screenplay for LABOR DAY. He had been on quite a roll with his previous films “Young Adult”, “Up in the Air”, “Juno” and “Thank You for Smoking”. All of these films had a unique voice and had something to say about various parts of society. LABOR DAY just slumbers along in its own melodrama. It wasn’t believable and it just doesn’t work. Winslet and Brolin do what they can with the screenplay, but even their remarkable skills are wasted. LABOR DAY is a film you would be wise to skip.


Video: The film was nice to look at and small town life is captured in all its glory.

Sound: The sound was really sharp in the beginning. It did get better as the film went along though.

Deleted Scenes (10:36): There are six scenes in all. 2 of the scenes deal more with the hamster Joe. There is an extra scene with Mr. Jervis played by the great character actor J.K. Simmons. There are another scene of bonding with Henry and Frank. None of the scenes excised would have made a difference either way on the film.

End of Summer: Making Labor Day (29:06): This is a decent feature about the making of the film. The book author which the script is based on touches on her inspiration for her material. Casting is discussed in length.

Feature Commentary with Director/Screenwriter Jason Reitman, Director of Photography Eric Steelberg and First Assistant Director/Co-Producer Jason Blomenfeld: This is a good commentary with the three men. Reitman does much of the talking and he steers the other two to make points about the film. I really liked how Reitman was particular about the time period. It is also interesting to note that they studied the movie “Body Heat” to get the sweat just perfect.



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