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Blu-ray Review: Labor Day

May 6, 2014

Labor Day Blu-ray Cover

Labor Day – A Paramount Release

Blu-ray Release Date: April 29th, 2014

Rated PG for mature themes and sexual content

Running time: 111 minutes

Jason Reitman (dir.)

Jason Reitman (screenplay)

Based on the novel by Joyce Maynard

Rolfe Kent (music)

Kate Winslet as Adele
Josh Brolin as Frank
Gattlin Griffith as Henry
Tobey Maguire as Adult Henry
Clark Gregg as Gerald
Brighid Fleming as Eleanor

Our reviews below:


Labor Day Blu-ray Review By John Corrado

***1/2 (out of 4)

When depressed single mother Adele (Kate Winslet) finally leaves the house to go shopping with her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith), they are confronted by the injured Frank (Josh Brolin), who convinces them to take him back to their home.  He is an escaped convict trying to stay under the radar of the police, but things take an unexpected turn when Adele starts to fall in love with him, and the two form a deep bond over the final weekend of summer vacation in 1987.  But the police are after him for reasons that are slowly revealed through flashbacks, and their relationship can only last so long before fate intervenes.

Although some have found this premise hard to take, Labor Day comes alive thanks to the excellent acting of Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and newcomer Gattlin Griffith.  As a quiet sense of suspense builds throughout, backed up by a masterful score from Rolfe Kent, this is a low key drama that affectively brings us into the world of these characters, leading up to a bittersweet ending that earns the emotional response of the audience.  Adapted from the moving novel by Joyce Maynard, Labor Day is a gorgeously filmed and beautifully acted romance, and another strong addition to director Jason Reitman’s excellent filmography. You can read my full thoughts on the film right here.

The Blu-ray includes filmmaker commentary, deleted scenes and a “making of” featurette.


Labor Day Blu-ray Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

Based on the novel by Joyce Maynard, and directed for the screen by Jason Reitman, Labor Day tells the story of one Labor day weekend that changes three people’s lives forever. 13-year-old Henry (Gattlin Griffith) lives with his mother Adele (Kate Winslet) in a small US town. Adele has been depressed since Henry’s father left, and she barely can leave the house to get groceries. When Frank shows up and forces her to take him in to stay the night, suddenly their lives are turned upside-down as they hide an escaped convict under their roof. Frank is doing 18 years for murder, but as they get to know each other, there seems to be more to his story than meets the eye.

Labor Day is a beautifully realized film – one of my favourites at TIFF last year. And watching it again on DVD, it holds up just as well. It is a small and emotional human story, about how sometimes at the least expected moments, the people we come in contact with change our lives forever. Now that it’s on DVD, be sure to check this one out.


Labor Day Blu-ray Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

What would you do if you met a fugitive? Let him into your home? This is exactly what happens in Labor Day, a romance based on the book by Joyce Maynard. Set in 1987, the movie features depressed single mother Adele (Kate Winslet) and her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith). But one day at the general store, they take in an escaped convict named Frank (Josh Brolin), who may or may not be dangerous. He turns out benign, acts fatherly to Henry, and Adele slowly falls in love over peach pie and rumba. But when the police are on their trail, they plan to escape to PEI, where the police couldn’t follow.

Labor Day begins with suspense, then moves into a melancholy sweetness reminiscent of a Nicholas Sparks novel. The movie feels very Nicholas Sparks, with the clean romance, beautiful scenery and idyllic small town. The acting is really good in this film, with a great breakout role by Gattlin Griffith. Jason Reitman’s directing is as good as ever, and Labor Day is an unusual romance that should be enjoyed by the Nicholas Sparks demographic.


Labor Day Blu-ray Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Most movies don’t have you rooting for the bad guy. Director Jason Reitman’s adaptation of author Joyce Maynard’s novel Labor Day believably portrays the brief holiday weekend relationship between escaped convict Frank (Josh Brolin), and the mother and son Adele (Kate Winslet) and Henry (Gattlin Griffith) who he coerces into hiding him from the police.

Labor Day is narrated by Henry as an adult (Tobey Maguire), as he looks back on the brief role Frank played in making him the person he is today. Henry was thirteen and living with his depressed and anxious single mother. On one of Adele’s rare ventures out of the house, Henry and his mother encountered Frank in a department store. Forced to drive him back to their home, they find themselves awkwardly trying to accommodate their “houseguest.”

What Henry and Adele find out is that Frank has a caring side and repays their hospitality by doing house repairs, cleaning the floors and cooking up a storm. In a rather sensual scene, Frank teaches Adele and Henry how to make an amazing peach pie. When the next door neighbour drops her disabled son Barry (Micah Fowler) off for them to babysit, Frank is kind and caring. Before they know it, Adele and Frank form a bond and seem to be falling in love. Henry also likes the attention from Frank, something he doesn’t get from his own dad, Gerald (Clark Gregg).

Labor Day works mainly due to the strong performances from Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. Young Gattlin Griffith is also very good as the older than his years Henry. This is a well made romantic drama that would make a good Mother’s Day gift for fans of Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin or Jason Reitman.


Labor Day Blu-ray Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Labor Day is a memoir narrated by the adult Henry Wheeler (Tobey Maguire), set in a New Hampshire village around the 1987 holiday weekend when he (Gattlin Griffith) was about to start middle school. Left by his father (Clark Gregg) for another woman, Henry lives with his mother Adele (Kate Winslett) who is depressed and mainly housebound. During an infrequent shopping trip, Henry runs into Frank (Josh Brolin), an escaped convict who politely but menacingly requests that Adele and Henry take him back home with them.

Over the next few days, Frank lies low, earning his keep with chores, repairs, and especially cooking, including a peach pie for which this film has already become notorious. Backstories are gradually revealed through flashbacks, and nature inevitably takes its course. Suspense builds as neighbours get suspicious and police patrols close in.

Adapted by director Jason Reitman from a novel by Joyce Maynard, Labor Day will not appeal to everyone. On one level, its slow burning Nicholas Sparks rural romanticism will appeal to some and turn others off. Meanwhile, the hostage thriller plot unfolds with tension built up over an ambient Rolfe Kent score. Other elements, such as arty backlit camera shots and the precious narration can be distracting. What ultimately made the film watchable for me was the fine cast, not only the two leads but also the supporting roles.

For example, there is a nice contrast between the intensity of Adele and Frank and the banality of her ex with his new family. As a precocious new kid in town, Brighid Fleming provides an interesting distraction for Henry. Finally, Tom Lipinski in the flashbacks bears an uncanny resemblance to Brolin without the “city miles.”

Consensus: Directed by Jason Reitman, Labor Day is a touching drama that carefully balances romance and suspense, with beautiful performances from Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and talented newcomer Gattlin Griffith. ***1/4 (out of 4)

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