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A stranger in the house

From the director of "Up in the Air" and "Juno"
From the director of "Up in the Air" and "Juno"
Paramount Pictures

Labor Day

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Labor Day is a movie that’s propelled by the actors starring in it. It’s not a hard movie to follow. A man escapes from prison after 18 years and goes on the run. He comes across a woman and her son and makes them let him hide in their house from the police. There’s a nearby train station which he plans to use the next morning in order to leave town.

Josh Brolin plays the escaped convict and certainly has the look of one; he’s got the whole chiseled, scruffy look here and not clean-cut like other movies he’s been in. At first, he seems quite threatening toward the mother and son as he must tie them up in case the authorities show up so that it’s more of a kidnapping and he’s got some collateral to use. But as time goes on, you get the impression that he grows to like the two of them and acts kinder and kinder through the days. The train doesn’t seem to come by. But as the mother points out, it’s Labor Day weekend so they’re not running as they normally would.

Kate Winslet plays the very vulnerable mother. We see from the beginning of the film that she sends her son out to do most of the shopping as something has clearly happened to her which causes her to live a very sheltered life. Over the course of a few days, the house begins to feel like a new home for the convict. And you slowly wonder if he’s really just faking it all in order to gain their trust so they don’t rat him out to the police, or if he’s really taken a liking to the small family. And if that’s the case, was he really guilty of the crime he’s been serving time for?

There are some cliché scenes such as when he shows them how to bake a pie, and you see his sensitive side come out as it becomes a whole sensual process between the mother and him much like the pottery scene in Ghost. But these two actors make it work, and it’s one of those films where you begin to root for the guy who’s supposedly bad and hope everything winds up okay for them. While there aren’t many worthwhile movies playing right now, this is one that’s definitely worth seeing.