Published on January 31st, 2014 | by gareth0
By Paula Baker Neill
“Labor Day,” is a romantic drama about Adele (Kate Winslet), an agoraphobic single mother to Henry (Gattlin Griffith). While on a their monthly shopping trip, Henry encounters Frank (Josh Brolin), an escaped convict from the local prison. Frank demands that they take him home and he spends the weekend with them, doing home repairs, teaching them how to bake pies, and falling in love with Adele.
The story is told from the child, Henry’s, point of view. His observations and narrative could have felt stifling and claustrophobic. After all, the Adele and Frank are the ones with the most action and dialogue. Instead, Henry’s limited perspective and lack of worldly knowledge creates a film where we are discovering a fresh new existence right alongside the 13-year-old boy.
I was expecting to find an overwrought love story with a lot of unnecessary melodramatic scenes, a la a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Despite my wariness, the characters and setting drew me into the story. Instead of feeling emotionally manipulated by the filmmakers, I was connected to the characters through the solid acting, storytelling elements, music, and cinematography.
As the weekend progresses, we uncover the source of Adele’s agoraphobia, Frank’s imprisonment, and their attraction to each other. The juxtaposition of the developing relationship to the mounting tension surrounding the manhunt for Frank serves the story well. Will their plans and dreams come true? Will Frank be caught? Will these characters get their “happily ever after?” And if so, how? When? Overall, “Labor Day” is a well-acted story that enveloped me despite my initial misgivings.