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'Labor Day' surprisingly pleasant

By Spencer Palmer
On February 3, 2014

What did you do over Labor Day weekend? Did you change someone’s life forever?

 

Young teen Henry (Gattlin Griffith) lives with his mother, Adele (Kate Winslet). She suffers from depression, and leaves the house only about once a month. Henry does his best to take care of Adele, but he recognizes there are things he can’t do to help.

 

One day soon before school starts, Adele and Henry go shopping for clothes. A wounded man, who introduces himself as Frank (Josh Brolin), softly and forcefully asks for assistance and a ride to their house. Reluctantly, Adele takes him home. Frank explains he just escaped prison, but he isn’t all he appears to be.

 

Going into “Labor Day,” I thought I knew exactly what was going to happen based on what I saw in the trailer. Fortunately, I was wrong. I was pleasantly surprised. I liked it.

 

I thought the film was going to be a romantic drama, almost bordering the chick flick genre, but it wasn’t. I was worried because I like Winslet and Brolin, and I couldn’t see Brolin in a chick flick. They both delivered fantastic performances and were well-supported by Griffith and the other actors.

 

There are a number of memorable anecdotes throughout the movie that add to the simplicity of the film and depth of the characters. “Labor Day” is based on a book of the same name by Joyce Maynard, and those philosophies may have been pulled directly from its pages.

 

The movie effectively kept the audience curious and questioning with brief flashbacks and images. There wasn’t as much show-and-tell as there were fill-in-the-blanks until everything was finally revealed near the end. Having a mentally challenging aspect makes a movie and the story more intriguing, captivating the audience and causing them to think about how this or that happened and how it ties to the present.

 

I felt anxiety for Frank as various situations arose that could potentially compromise his situation. I felt the burden Henry had to bear to take care of his mother. I felt the heartache of a world turned upside down.

 

For everything that happened, for all that was in it, it was a simple, intimate human story. There were only a small handful of locations, and that added to the closeness. I could easily see this story replicated in a stage play.12

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