Every so often there is one of these romantic dramas that come along that work to tell a story different than just the average love story. The latest to try to bring something new to the genre, Labor Day comes from Jason Reitman and features a great cast including Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Tobey Maguuire, Clark Gregg, James Van Der Beek, and J.K. Simmons, but does it have the story and emotional punch to bring it home or will it just be another missed holiday?
Labor Day follows a depressed single mom and her son who offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited. While this film is obviously a love story, there is more to the bigger picture. The slow building love between these two lost souls is just the catalyst used to take them from being lost souls to finding themselves through each other. For the first half of the film it moves at a snail’s pace as it tries to make the viewer understand the plight of this single mother and the young boy being forced to grow faster than he should. While these are important to the story to understand who they are, it feels like there is just too much time and not much delivered. Once Brolin is brought into the picture the story changes a bit giving it a little more interesting direction, but still keeps moving pretty slow. It’s not until the very end of the film as the future of the characters jumps ahead that you start getting more of a payoff and makes most of the sluggish nature somewhat worth it.
This isn’t knocking any walls down in this genre, but works well enough that most of the target audience will likely be sucked right in. The strong performances by the cast help to make it more than just a forgettable entry into the romantic drama genre but never steps outside the box to bring anything new to the genre. While people had mixed reviews about his previous film Oldboy, Josh Brolin is continuing to bring some great performances in diverse roles and will hopefully keep on the course.