Jason Reitman is a 36-year-old Canadian Film Director, screenwriter and producer who is best known for three award-winning movies, Thank You for Not Smoking (2005), Juno (2007) and 2009’s Up in the Air. His latest movie to be released in the UK is a complex drama that Reitman directed and wrote. Based on a novel by Joyce Maynard, Labor Day (2013) stars Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and 15-year-old Gattlin Tadd Griffith who played Walter Collins in Clint Eastwood’s Changeling (2008).
Set in 1987 Winslet plays Adele Wheeler a depressed single mum who lives in a large run down rural house with her 13 year old son Henry (Griffith). When mother and son make a rare trip to the local supermarket they are approached by a man who is not only limping quite badly but also bleeding from a stomach and head wound, he insists they give him a ‘ride’ to their home so that he can rest his injured leg. The pair discovers that he has escaped from police custody by jumping out of a second floor window - Frank Chambers (Brolin) was serving 18 years for murder! He appears a considerate man and does threaten neither Adele nor Henry. While he rests up over the weekend both of them feel drawn to the convict, each for their own reasons. Reitman’s direction develops a sensual feel between Frank and Adele from the start, which is partly explained by Adele’s loneliness and isolation, and from which a relationship grows. When Frank begins to teach Henry some everyday tasks along with the rudimental skills involved with baseball the boy realises how much he is missing a father figure.
It becomes quite a sentimental journey and I would question why any viewer would not empathise with all three, especially Winslet who has succeeded in bring out the venerability, beauty and sexuality of her character. The soundtrack has been composed by Rolfe Kent who has worked with Reitman on three previous occasions. The house, were most of the movie is set, and the surrounding areas are brought to life by the cinematography of Eric Steelberg. It may not change your life but this modern day fairy tale is a most satisfying and enjoyable watch.