Director: Jason Reitman
Since 2005’s Thank You for Smoking, Reitman has produced quirky, critical character studies, each slices of odd, complicated inhabitants in their near-highs and terrible lows. (And usually JK Simmons waves hello). In Labor Day, Reitman travels far outside of his comfort zone for a tense drama about the most defining weekend of one boy’s summer.
Adele (Kate Winslet), a single mother in a small town full of recognizable actors, acts as a ghost. Since her separation, her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) has done everything in his power to make her feel loved, but he recognizes that no amount of chores or breakfasts in bed will mend her hermetic loneliness. Things in their household take a dramatic change when an escaped convict named Frank (Josh Brolin), uses their decrepit home for hiding out.
“Nothing misleads people like the truth,” explains Frank on how he escaped, who despite fiery news reports appears to be an upstanding father-figure, handyman and cook. While truth unravels on both ends in a Mallick-ian fashion, Henry debates if the new man in his life can be trusted, and Adele decides if he’s her missing ingredient.
Reitman has drastically toned down his defining charisma, shooting straight for the tears as often as possible, but that backfires. There’s a missing bonding element. Throughout the film several such elements are played with, but Reitman never follows anything through. Held up by good atmosphere and better acting, it won’t well up your eyes much longer than the credits. (Zack Kotzer)
Saturday, September 7th, Ryerson Theatre, 6:00pm
Sunday, September 8th, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1, 9:00am
Saturday, September 14th, Ryerson Theatre, 6:00pm