Labor Day is the story of a a rather unlikely tale that unfolds over the course of a Labor Day Weekend. Henry is a young boy who is responsible for caring for his depressed and reclusive mother, Adele. Before school starts, they venture out to the local Price Mart for some new clothing for Henry. There they encounter escaped convict Frank, who convinces them to bring him home with them. At first, Frank is in their home by force, but eventually it becomes so much more and so different from that. He is the father and the husband that Henry and Adele need. He fixes things around the house. Cooks. But he is a wanted man, and as the weekend comes to a close, the world comes crashing down on the fastly-formed little family.
Overall, the movie works and it is pretty good - it is a romantic story with good characters whom you want to see happy. Kate Winslet delivers a strong performance (as always) that earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Her depiction of Adele is complex and beautiful and really shows the darkness mixed with hope. Josh Brolin is perfect in the casting of Frank - he is rugged and intimidating yet manages to show this gentle and caring side, graceful and kind. It is a perfect juxtaposition. Together with Henry, they form an unlikely little family. Additionally, the direction by Jason Retiman is good, but not exceptional and doesn't really deliver the same amazingness we have seen from past films.
I liked the film initially and still think it has some strong performances, but taking a step back has made me realize it reminds me a bit of Nicholas Sparks movies ... which I dislike. So ... that kinda works against it.
But Winselt and Brolin's performances are worth seeing, to be sure.
Additionally, at the screening, the author of the book came and did a Q&A after the film. That was kind of interesting. I have never read any of Joyce Maynard's book (and probably won't), but she seems like she has had an interesting life. Apparently she had a relationship with Salinger when she was 18 and later wrote a memoir about it. After the Q&A everyone got a copy of the book and Maynard signed copies for everyone. That's nice and she seems like a nice enough person ... but I did judge her a bit for her rather overly blingy dress at a book signing in Minneapolis on a freezing cold night. Just sayin' ...
P.S. After seeing Kate Winslet in Labor Day and Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street (and hearing Leo say Kate's name at the GG when he was listing the nominees for Best Actress), all I can think of is watching Titanic. Which is why I'm watching it right now. "I'll never let go Jack ... I'll never let go ..."