Movie Review: ‘Labor Day’

Jarrett Quick

‘Labor Day’  is at times overly sappy and slowly paced, but the film does deliver some solid emotional moments despite its flaws.

‘Labor Day’ follows 13-year-old Henry Wheeler (Gattlin Griffth) and his agoraphobic mother Adele (Kate Winslet). In the years since Henry’s father remarried, Henry has attempted to make up for the loss by acting as a surrogate husband in any way he can, but it is soon obvious to him that he is not able to replace what she has lost. On a monthly trip to the local grocery store before Labor Day weekend, their world is complicated when an escaped prisoner, Frank (Josh Brolin)  catches a ride home with the two, causing both Henry and Adele to consider where a man like Frank fits into their lives.

I did not know much about ‘Labor Day’ going in to the theater, and I was mildly impressed by the plot as it unfolded. The story of love found in what is essentially a kidnapping created some interesting conflict between the feelings of Adele and Frank, but in some situations characters do not seem to act logically at all. Even though Frank is often a nice guy, I would still have major concerns with a convicted murderer being around my kid.

Brolin and Winslet both deliver good performances, but I never felt any real chemistry between the two. They both play lonely characters, but the leap from conflict to love was a little too quick and concise to feel real to me. Gattlin Griffith was good as the young Henry Wheeler, but his performances could have used less vacant staring at certain parts. There are parts of this film that could easily be recut into a horror/thriller based on his haunting gaze alone.

Overall, the film felt like it was trying to accomplish more than it could handle. There is a subplot with Henry beginning to explore his interest in girls, but it is not really given enough screentime to be explored. There is some great dramatic scenes in the film, but there is just as many overly melodramatic moments that really do not seem to fit.

‘Labor Day’ was not great, but it was not terrible. I would recommend waiting for this one to pop up on Netflix rather than head to the theater.