Friday, January 31, 2014

Labor Day

I'm a big fan of writer/director Jason Reitman.  He knocked it out of the park with his debut feature film 'Thank You for Smoking' in 2005, and then rallied with two acclaimed and crowd pleasing follow ups, 'Juno' and 'Up in the Air'.  I had the privilege of listening to him speak about the latter two in person, and I can tell you he is among the most interesting filmmakers I've heard speak.  In 2011 he followed these films up with 'Young Adult', which received praise from critics, largely for Charlize Theron's fearless performance.  And while I did enjoy it, I didn't connect with it as strongly as with his prior three.  And now, though I hate to say it, 'Labor Day' is his weakest one yet.

Josh Brolin plays an escaped convict in need of a safe place to lay low.  And he finds it with a lonely woman (played by Kate Winslet) and her son.  But while the characters are earnestly portrayed, the relationship that results in this melodramatic Lifetime-esque romance aren't believable in the least.  For one thing, the beautiful Kate Winslet just isn't believable as a lonely and agoraphobic woman who has no options in her life for love.  One can only suspend one's disbeliefe so much.  And her eventual feelings towards her captor just don't feel based in reality, and the whole notion of this sensitive and fatherly/husbandly-figure of a fugitive seems to come right out of a romance novel.  True romantics might enjoy this as a modern day fairy tale.  But the realist in me doesn't buy it as believable for a second.  Of course, the weakest Jason Reitman film is still better than many, and although I may be biased a bit, I still thought it was a well made film and a bit better than most of my fellow critics.  But there are much better options in theaters now.

Grade: B

Who is this movie for?  All you fans of those romance novels with Fabio on the cover.  You know who you are.

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