Labor Day (2013)


This is a reprint of my review from when I saw the film at the Brisbane International Film Festival in November 2013.

“I don’t think losing my father broke my mother’s heart, but rather losing love itself.”

Well, this was surprising…

I was expecting an awful, laughably bad film that was just dripping in Pay It Forward levels of sentimentality and pointlessness, but instead I got a quite enjoyable romantic drama, that is very geared towards women and is no masterpiece, but is rather just a good night at the cinema.

If I could give one piece of advice to Paramount for this film, it would be to not put the names of Jason Reitman’s other films on the advertising material. That is just putting the nail on Labor Day‘s coffin. It is not a Reitman film, it veers much towards The Notebook school of filmmaking. If you go in expecting a Reitman film, you will hate it. There are hints of his usual techniques here in scenes I could count on one of my hands, but overall, it represents a complete change.

The film is home to one of the oddest cases of Stockholm Syndrome on the planet, and creates a love story out of basically a hostage. Winslet gives a great (as expected) performance as Adele, making you really understand how what she has gone through would really mess someone up, and Brolin is almost unrecognisable for around the first half hour, also giving a great performance. They have great chemistry, and make a story that reads as incredibly unbelievable and ridiculous on paper at times moving and heartfelt, making it (as one reviewer tweeted) “impossible not to care”. This is a rather heartbreaking story about one of the worst kinds of loss at it’s core, and that has one the saddest scenes I’ve watched on film this year. It portrays feelings of emptiness and desperation quite well, and you see that they are both seeking the same thing: love.

Labor Day is a classic ‘weepie’ film, although not one that wallows in ridiculous, schmaltzy levels of gooey sentimentality, rather, it uses the right amount to get to the audience’s heart. It’s not a masterpiece (the pie making scene and a few others are a bit WTF, although I don’t think I would have laughed as much if I hadn’t read the reviews beforehand), not Oscar material, but rather, just a nice film that makes for a good, entertaining night at the cinema. Check it out if you get the chance, you may be surprised like I was.

Rating: 3.5/5


Labor Day receives a wide release in Australia starting today (February 6, 2014), after playing at the Brisbane International Film Festival.

M (mature themes and sexual references), 111 mins.


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