Cary, NC — Labor Day is the kind of straight forward romantic drama that you just don’t see anymore. Played totally straight and with complete sincerity by stars Kate Winslet ( Titanic, The Reader) and Josh Brolin ( No Country for Old Men, Milk), Labor Day proves to be mostly successful thanks to the commitment of its lead actors.
Labor Day: The Set-Up
Taking place over a Labor Day weekend in 1987, Adele ( Kate Winslet) is a single mother crippled by her divorce who can’t bring herself to leave her house, often sending her son for groceries and other supplies when necessary. But on the one day Adele braves the outside world to go shopping for new clothes for her son’s first day of 7th grade, escaped convict Frank ( Josh Brolin) quietly threatens the pair into giving him a ride and a place to lay low while the police look for him.
Walks Line Between Cheesy And Sincere Successfully
Director Jason Reitman ( Juno, Up in the Air) strikes a convincing melancholy tone with Labor Day. Actually, he often walks a fine line between sincerity and cheesiness, but somehow he makes it work.
Right off the bat, you feel sorry for Adele. She’s a woman who adores her son, but she’s pretty much given up on the world after her husband leaves them both for another woman. Winslet is one of those actresses who can really do no wrong, and her work here is no exception. She brings a quiet sadness to Adele that immediately earns the audience’s sympathy. When convict Frank turns out to be the nicest and most caring convict ever, you can’t help but root for their budding romance.
Josh Brolin does equally good work as Frank. Brolin has proved himself to be a reliable actor over the years, and it’s a quiet, brooding role like this where he has been most successful. He pretty much instantly falls for Adele. The first day he holds them captive in their home, he not only makes dinner, but he cleans and makes repairs around the house as well. Like director Reitman, Brolin has to walk that fine line between sincerity and cheesiness, and in fact he gets a few potentially groan-worthy lines, yet he makes it work thanks to his straight faced portrayal.
Winning Performances Make For A Good Romantic Drama
There is an argument that could be made that Labor Day is little more than a cheesefest, full of eye-rolling one-liners and an over the top plot.
However, I also believe that argument would be a little cynical and missing the point. Labor Day isn’t exactly going for reality, but it does want you to believe in the connection that it’s two lead characters have for one another. And thanks to the performances of Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, Labor Day is more than successful in that department.
If you are looking for a romantic flick for a Valentine’s Date Night, you should consider seeing Labor Day. Your honey will thank you.
Review by Jordan Hunt for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews.