By Megan Bianco
‘Tis the season for Valentines, candy and dates. For Hollywood that means releasing a lot of romantic films this month. One of the most hyped has been Jason Reitman’s adaptation of Joyce Maynard’s novel Labor Day. Popular during the film festival circuit last year, the star-studded drama was finally widely released last weekend. But it seems to be a bit of an oddball flick, considering the resumes of Reitman and leads Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet.
In a Massachusetts town in 1987, a young boy named Henry Wheeler (Gattlin Griffith) lives with his depressed mother Adele (Winslet) after family patriarch (Clark Gregg) leaves them for his secretary. When an escaped criminal named Frank Chambers (Brolin) uses the Wheeler’s house as a hiding place, secrets are revealed about Adele’s depression and Frank’s past. Within Labor Day weekend, the three begin acting like a family and cooking food together. Frank’s unexpected knack for recipes.
James van der Beek, J.K. Simmons and Tobey Maguire co-star. The most interesting thing about Labor Day is that Reitman chose to shoot the film as a thriller more than a straight melodrama. The downside is that Brolin and Winslet are two very odd choices to play an angst-ridden couple in a romance, to the point of being miscast. Reitman is a great filmmaker of satire and drama, but his love stories could use a bit more polish.