Sunday, June 15, 2014

LABOR DAY

Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin
Gattlin Griffith



A coming of age tale set in 1987 (although it seems more like the mid 1970s) unfolds during Labor Day holiday. An unexpected visitor holds a single mother and her son hostage in their own home. It turns out he is an escaped convict although he insists the crime he committed was an accident. 

Josh Brolin plays the mysterious stranger Frank who is quite menacing, physically but eventually turns out he has a heart of gold. I mean anyone who would come across the hunky figure of Josh Brolin would naturally run the other way. Frank's back story is glimpsed through dreamy like flashback sequences sans dialogue. And as his past is revealed interspersed with the ongoing drama, you slowly form an entirely different opinion about his true character.

Once we establish that there is nothing threatening nor menacing about Frank, we feel comfortable about his getting close to Adele (Kate Winslet). After all it really isn't difficult to 'like' Frank, he repairs the house, cooks for them, teaches them to bake a delicious peach pie and he even teaches her son to play baseball.

They are both lonely, lost souls trapped in an unforgiving world who find comfort in each other's company. As expected, Kate Winslet is brilliant in her role. You feel a lot of empathy for Adele as it is revealed that in her distant past she was a fun loving and carefree person, who sadly lost her joie de vivre due to a painful episode in her life. 

Together, Frank and Adele exude a palpable chemistry with an implied underlying sexual tension that is enough to heat the screen yet it isn't laid bare for the audience to feast on. In this case, it is a good element as it doesn't cheapen or vulgarize what Frank and Adele share.

Yet at the same time, it seems that is the only main draw of the film. Aside from the very few minutes of threat and tension of imminent danger as the authorities close in on their search for Frank, the movie pretty much falls flat. 

Since I like and tend to focus on the positive, I'd say "Labor Day" is a tender, nostalgic family drama that is a tense yet powerful dramatization of a deep relationship that blossoms between Frank and Adele. 

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