Adele Wheeler (Kate Winslet) is a lonely, divorced, depressed single mum with only her 13 year old son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) as the man in her life. Finding it difficult to leave the house on her own, Henry goes everywhere with her and for her. On a rare trip to the supermarket they stumble across an injured Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin), an escaped convict. Forcing Adele into “giving him a ride” to their house he ends up taking refuge for the next four days under their roof. Totally oblivious to them what happens over the course of the next few days changes all their lives forever, Frank and Adele grow extremely close and forge a simply love affair and their own little family and even Henry is moulded into the man he will become as they harbour this fugitive from the law.
Brought to us by Paramount Pictures and Directed by Jason Reitman, this is a tame, quaint book adaptation of the 2009 novel of the same name by Joyce Maynard. It’s a simply drama story of love, passion and betrayal seen through the eyes of a teenage boy. The whole story is told by Henry as a grown man as he looks back on his 13th year. Don’t let that fool you into thinking you get to see Henry as a grown man and the story is told in flashbacks as we don’t actually get to see him as a man until the very end when he has grown into a never ageing Tobey Maguire. However, it is one of those films that use’s the flashback sequence, but these are to tell Franks story, explaining why he was sent to prison in the first place. Giving the viewer a better insight into this character and making you realise he isn’t quite the monster he is made out to be.
This is most certainly a chick flick, as it hits on the sensitive notes of the grief a woman goes through from losing a child, to the love of her life; the whole focus should be and was intended to be around how this 13 year child see’s his life and the intrusion of a man taking away his mother but without knowing it, the makers have made this film very much about how fragile a strong women can really be when life really gets tough. The one reason for this has to be Kate Winslet’s performance as Adele, there is no wonder why she was nominated for a Best Actress award at the Golden Globes for her role. She plays this role so convincingly. Within a few short scenes she delivers Adele’s fragility with such gusto that instant bond between her and the audience is firmly set very quickly.
Then we have Josh Brolin enter as Frank, at first coming across as a little dark, which I for one think he didn’t quite pull off, but soon proves that despite his supposed misdemeanour he is a real man, father figure and lover. However, there was a little something lacking from his performance, passion. There just wasn’t enough passion oozing from this man, which in turn never quite gets that connection with the audience.
With cameos from Tobey Maguire and a rapidly ageing James Van Der Beek as a nosey, annoying cop, this compelling drama doesn’t quite pull on the heart strings too much. It’s not a weepy in a sense until the last 10 minutes, when quite frankly even I had to fight back the tears. It’s just a nice little warm, tender film which would be best placed to watch on a chilled out Sunday afternoon.
Labor Day is out in cinemas on the 21st March.