North Texas Daily

Movie Review: ‘Labor Day’ is a slice of movie heaven

Movie Review: ‘Labor Day’ is a slice of movie heaven

Movie Review: ‘Labor Day’ is a slice of movie heaven
January 30
17:10 2014

Preston Barta / Film Critic

“Labor Day”

Rated PG-13 for thematic material, brief violence and sexuality.

Runtime: 111 min.

Rating: 4/5

For the past decade, Academy Award-nominated writer-director Jason Reitman has shown how gifted a filmmaker he is. With engaging films like the comical “Thank You for Smoking” (2005), the sassy “Juno” (2007) and his best film to date, “Up in the Air” (2009), the exceptional filmmaker has displayed quite the promise of a fine career.

His latest film and adaptation, “Labor Day,” based on Joyce Maynard’s staggering novel of the same name, is sure to divide critics and audiences. However, if you’re willing to bite into the traditional plot-pie, you might find yourself completely immersed by the first must-see movie experience of the year.

Set in 1987, the film, narrated by Tobey Maguire, follows Adele Wheeler (Kate Winslet), a depressed single mother who lives in a rural home with her 13-year-old son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith). While shopping at a local store, a bloody man (Josh Brolin) approaches Henry and makes the Wheelers take him to their house to look after him.

The man is revealed to be Frank Chambers, an escaped convict on the run. As the police search the town for Chambers, Adele and Henry gradually learn his true story as their options become progressively limited.


As some might come to expect from a film with Brolin and Winslet attached to it, the performances displayed are first-rate. Winslet’s work as Adele exhibits a new vulnerable aspect never before seen by her on screen. Her broken demeanor and fears of leaving her home ring with authenticity. While Brolin’s quiet and reserved performance gives the movie its charm and is the epitome of less-is-more.

However, one of the most impressive aspects of the film is the performance given by Griffith (“Changeling,” 2008). The 15-year-old actor masterfully exposes Henry’s inner pensiveness, expressing a range of emotions most adult actors strive to demonstrate their whole careers.

“Labor Day” might not be the newest kid on the block in terms of story, or Reitman’s strongest film, but it’s the kind of feature that people need to see in a world where theaters paint their screens with violence and sexuality. It’s a film about family that will have you eager to come back for a second serving.

“Labor Day” opens tomorrow at Cinemark Denton.

Feature Photo: Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet star in “Labor Day.” Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Center Photo: Gattlin Griffith, Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet bake a pie together in “Labor Day.” Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

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