Labor Day: Blu Ray Review
Released by Universal Home Entertainment
The director of Up In The Air returns for a masterful take on a Joyce Maynard novel.
It's 1987, small town America, and young teen Henry (Gattlin Griffith) is planning to spend Labor Day weekend, dreaming of life and getting ready to go back to school. But Henry's already grown up, having to care for his depressed mother Adele (a washed out Kate Winslet), who's never been the same since her husband Gerald (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's Clark Gregg) left. Unable to really live or even leave the house, Adele's prone to only occasional visits out, accompanied by Henry. However, one day, heading out to the shop for their monthly pilgrimage, Henry's approached by a man called Frank who is in dire need of help. Corralling Adele into helping as well, Frank, along with Henry, heads back to their home....it's here that they realise Frank is a criminal on the run.
Suddenly, the tension's palpable and Labor Day weekend is going to be a long weekend in more ways than one.
Labor Day is a gorgeously shot and utterly resonant piece of film-making from Up In The Air director Jason Reitman, who has, in one fell swoop, substantially upped his game (which was admittedly already pretty high).
Through beauteous tracking shots and occasionally portentous music, this surprising drama unfolds in a manner that's both engrossing and utterly compelling, forcing you to wallow in the story. There's a pensive, almost summer dream-like quality to the images as they fall from the screen; through gradual reveals and flashbacks, Reitman weaves together a cinematic tapestry that's subtle, nuanced and utterly hard to ignore. It's not revealing much to say that events and neighbours conspire against this Stockholm Syndrome story, but the main trio put in such quietly understated and impressive performances that you can't help but get captivated in this moody tale. All three are hoping for a dream outcome to what can -and must be- a doomed reality. Henry wants a father figure, Adele a release from years of not living and loving and Frank wants to atone for the past, regain what he lost and of course, be free.
All of these are doomed to failure as the bittersweet journey continues, but Reitman handles each with such deftness and directorial dexterity that we're captivated, swept up in the hopes and fears and ensconced in the story telling.
There are a couple of flaws in it though - a scene with Tobey Maguire seems surplus to requirements and some of the flashbacks seem a little unnecessarily dragged out and interspersed too randomly, but these are minor quibbles in a piece of film-making that luxuriates in the finer details of long lazy weekends.
All in all, Labor Day is a superior serving of drama that deserves your time.
Extras: Commentary; making of and deleted scenes