Labor Day Screen 6 articles

Labor Day

2013

Labor Day Poster
  • ...Most of the film is told from the point of view of a seventh-grader, which, I'm sad to report, is just about the emotional level of this movie. You know how satires of award shows have fake clips of actors performing earnest-looking nonsense (like a mom and son baking a pie with an escaped convict)? That's Labor Day: a movie so blandly absurd it could only be a joke on bland absurdity.

  • The sentimentality stifles even as great an actress as Winslet, who’s given little to do but pine and cry, and the miserablist pile-on of the backstories pushes Labor Day toward the realm of exploitation.

  • Too much sugar ruins the pie! Jason Reitman’s shamelessly saccharine adaptation of Joyce Maynard’s novel could not have resisted such a bromide, as it was baked into the dough. But the earnestness with which certain hackneyed narrative flashpoints are so handily realized turns whatever latent drama the film might have possessed into inadvertent comedy.

  • The more you think about Labor Day, the more calculating it gets. The two leads do what they can with the sentimental material; it’s almost a miracle that neither turns red with embarrassment (though this isn’t going first on their clip reels). The same can’t be said for director-writer Jason Reitman, whose sharp, cynical snap is nowhere to be felt.

  • While there are hints of humor, given the film's absurd, near-implausible scenario of a fugitive who plays daddy in a broken family home, Reitman is refreshingly not aiming for cheap laughs here, instead opting for the kind of sincerity required to sell the film's central idea about the visceral necessity of family love. This unexpected directorial about-face is what Reitman needed to demonstrate that he's a director with true emotional maturity.

  • Thanks in part to flashbacks and a few jolting revelations, Labor Day starts to become, in the spirit of such classic, expressly American tragedies as The Great Gatsby, a cautionary tale about the impossibility of changing the past. However, a better film would have had the gumption to maintain that poetic bleakness, rather than steer toward what ultimately feels like safe compromise.

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