LABOR DAY – Rated PG-13

Solidly based on the novel “Labor Day” by Joyce Maynard, Jason Reitman puts his hand to directing an extraordinarily touching film, and putting together a superb cast, that brings the novel and its characters to Life on the BIG SCREEN.

We meet Henry (Gattlin Griffith), the soft spoken young man who tries to help his divorced mom Adele (Kate Winslet) live through the pain and suffering she faces daily, as they both try to make the most of the life they have been dealt, since Henry’s father Gerald (Clark Gregg) walked out on them many years ago.  

Needing to get supplies for the weeks ahead, Henry convinces his mom to join him to pick up a few necessary items at the local store, when Henry meets Frank (Josh Brolin), who convinces Henry that it is the best interest for both Henry and his mom, to let him hitch a ride with them back to their home.

As Adele is uncomfortable with this scenario, she tries to refuse to take Frank anywhere, but to no avail, as Frank explains he has just escaped from prison, where he has been for the last 18 years, and he needs a ride to get to the outskirts of town, and they are it!

Adele and Henry follow orders, and return home with Frank in tow.  They try to keep their wits about them, as to make sure that Frank doesn’t hurt either one of them, until his departure in the morning.  As the cops are casing the neighborhood, Frank decides he will lay low until the cops move out of the area as they search for him.   Frank decides that while he is held up, he will try to help out – so he starts cleaning, and doing odd jobs around the house, as it looks like their home has been in definite need of repair for quite some time.  Frank also starts cooking and baking – two of his passions – and shares with Adele and Henry his expertise in making the perfect pie…………as his love for baking and for the company he is keeping…….is becoming quite apparent.

Despair, fear and loneliness fade into delight, fondness and companionship, as Frank, Adele and Henry start to live the life of a “real family”.  With each passing day, Frank begins to fill the void that has been encompassing Adele and Henry’s lives for quite some time. 

Is Frank really “the murderer” he has been in prison for, as he seems nothing but gracious, kind and loving?  Is Adele falling for Frank, even though she knows that they can never have a life together as long as he is on the lam?  And is Henry too, enjoying the company of Frank as the “father figure” that has been missing from his own life for way too long?

I give LABOR DAY an A: This film brought to life the utter heartbreak and frailty that is present in many of our lives, regardless if we are just mulling threw day to day on the outside, or are locked up in prison, unable to share our passions and life with the outside world.  Kate Winslet gives a very moving performance, playing once again the perfect “damaged” creature, unable to face the loneliness and heartbreak she feels each and every day, and the casting of Josh Brolin is absolutely superb as Frank, using that rough exterior of his to portray someone almost frightening, only to find out that he really is a caring and loving soul, when it is all said and done.  You will enjoy Gattlin Griffith as Henry too, portraying the “perfect son”, always doting on his mother and taking care of her, but knowing that what she is longing for – a man in her life – he cannot produce to make her pain go away.  Jason Reitman did a phenomenal job bringing these characters to life – you will fall in love with each and every one of them – and find yourself rooting for Henry, Adele, and even Frank………hoping throughout the entire film that they each get their “happily ever after.”

Kathy Kaiser


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