Review: ‘Labor Day’ (M) ***

Labor DayIS this film a melodramatic romance or a romantic melodrama? Whichever, its genesis is a novel by Joyce Maynard adapted by director Jason Reitman.

In a small New Hampshire town, divorcee Adele (Kate Winslet) mother of Henry (Gattlin Griffith) in sixth year at primary school, is a sad case, blighted by a gynaecological tragedy, reclusive, taking prescription meds to cope with Attention Deficit Disorder.

It’s Friday. A bearded man follows Henry from the supermarket to her car and asks for a lift. Frank (Josh Brolin) is an escaped convict suffering from a gunshot wound when he jumped from a second-story hospital window following an appendectomy. He wants shelter until nightfall.

Frank’s not a bad guy. He had his reasons for going to prison. He’s full of human goodness. He gives the car a service. He cuts and stacks the firewood. He mops the floor. He teaches Adele and Henry how to make a peach pie.

By Saturday night, the adults have developed a plan to pack up the house and drive across to Canada and the film has become an idyll driving us to wonder when the hammer will fall. Monday morning is when.

There’s nothing innately wrong with “Labor Day”, nor, alas, is there much that is inherently convincing. The tension is muted. There is no real conflict. Its target audience seems to be women whose main experience of the printed word is magazines full of fashion, gossip and household hints.

At all cinemas

 

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