Labor Day – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

labor dayLabor Day – 3/5 – Love stories; they are a dime a dozen.  Love stories can be found in almost all films in many genres.  If there is a chance for it, there will always be some kind of love story to talk about.  No matter how it is portrayed, a good love story brings passion, but a great love story brings a real memorable cinematic experience, even long after watching the movie.  This film is one that has a good premise; but is just a good love story.  Regardless, Labor Day is a film that will provide heartwarming moments, one that will create a decent experience at the movie theater.

Premise:  A single mom and a convict on the run come together for one fateful Labor Day weekend.  Here, along with her son, they must decide if this relationship will last, or will never make it through the weekend.

In the roles of Frank and Adele, you have Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet.  As Adele, Kate does a great in creating a woman that is broken by her past; a woman who is sheltered by her depression.  In that sheltered mentality, you see a deeply emotional individual, one that is fragile but seeks some spark for another passionate life.  As Frank, Brolin creates a man who is also broken by his past; a man who is imprisoned because of those consequences.  Frank is man trapped in values and convictions, but must hinder to circumstance to live.   You see he is stern, but has a homely sense to his mantra, seeking a person worth living for.  Eventually, when these two come in contact with one another, you see on the surface there is suspicion and angst.  Frank is on the run and Adele (reluctantly) has him stay in her house. As the weekend goes along, you see that ‘on the surface’ feelings begin to fade and a reinvigoration of lost love begins to form.  When these two begin to get closer and share thoughts of a real relationship, you see as the fragility in their personality begins swoon, as each other begins to fill holes missing in their lives.  When this happens, it is a relationship that forms organically; a chemistry that is endearing throughout the film.  No matter what happens in the aftermath of their decision, you believe in this relationship, and feel as if their love could last forever.  There lines are grounded, and the interactions they have with one another (including her son) feel reel.  When it comes to Adele’s son, Henry, he is played by Gattlin Griffith and voiced over by Toby Maguire (adult version and narration).   As the young Henry, Gattlin gives us someone that gets caught within this love story, a boy who lives his own growth in his ‘coming of age’ storyline within this film.  He is longing for that missing attachment of a father figure, and through this dire circumstance, kind of gets it.   You see a cautionary fixture of a tale, but one where he evolves with their love, believing that ‘family’ and ‘life lessons’ can come even from the strangest places.   His interactions are somewhat subtle, but you believe in his innocence, and understand the complication he faces within a moral decision of seeing this relationship through or doing the right thing (since he is a prisoner on the run).  Toby Maguire is left mostly to the narration and monologues that bridge the scenes for the three above, but his narration is done well, even if it’s generic.  The rest of the cast in this film are good in supporting roles, helping create a lively small town just enough to make them worth pay attention.  They help provide some depth to the whole ‘prisoner on the run’ so to speak, but nothing more than that.   Some of the supporting cast stand notable names are Clark Gregg, James Van Der Beek and J.K. Simmons.

The direction of the film is one that is very specific, but also very open.  I say this because the specific nature of the ‘love story’ is very true to any general love genre film, but the premise is one that leaves interpretation open for the audience to actually believe in the sequence the lead into the love between Adele and Frank.  With the way that the direction is made, the film moves very slowly, building on top of the premise.  It also adds a little bit of mystery to both Frank and Adele’s past, creating the allure of something real between them.  In the beginning, we get introduction (through narration) to young Henry and his mom, Adele.  We are then introduced to the elements that created the ‘single mother’ situation quickly, providing some kind of back bone to these characters.  Once the film get’s past this development, they eventually cross paths with Frank, who is on the run.  Once they get back to the house, and everything falls in place, we start to see the whole ‘love story’ start.  From here, the movie’s pace is very slow, moving along through these characters as they must deal with this predicament.  Through it all, you start to see as Adele and Frank begin to form some kind of connection and Henry begin to learn about people and values watching this connection happen.  As we watch the love story and coming of age themes get introduced, we see how it is softly woven without any glimpse of being force fed; it just happens.  With that feeling of an ‘organic’ feel, it helps create a situation that feels like your own memories being relived.  It also helps us understand the character’s flaws within Adele, Frank and Henry.  As one another learn to accept their fates (for this weekend), all situations of true love, maturation, growth, living and family values starts to play in the forefront, as the whole ‘fugitive on the run’ tale begins to fade in the background.  You start to see a more ‘purposeful’ themed story happen, as you live within the whole experience of this weekend with Frank, Adele and Henry.  Also (through the narration) the film begins to define where all three characters must do to move forward in their lives.  The film still moves slowly, and you do get a sense that it drags.  At times, you see the film puts a lot of focus on the ‘momentous’ occasions, leaving you to feel something through the character’s interaction.  This works and fails at the same time, but you still don’t lose sense of the evolving relationships happening.  Once the film gets to the final act, you see that decisions must be made, even if the consequences are too hard to bear.  Once the climax happens, and the film moves into the epilogue, you watch as there is growth in all three characters, and you see how certain things will succeed even through time.  The film’s ending is poignant, but it isn’t one that is memorable because you still this film as a general love story with a different twist.

The visuals of the film are very soothing and sensual; as the grounded sense of a ‘small town’ is felt throughout.  This kind of tactic helps keeps the focus on the main characters, causing you to live through them.  The score is moving, but it is only used at certain points of the film.

Overall, Labor Day is a good film, one that brings to life a love story that is believable.  The acting is wonderful, and the script helps this love story to come to life.  Even for the positives, the film does have a lethargic taste, even within its dramatic moments.  If you’re a fan of the actors/actress or like love stories, I would say check this out.

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