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May Fair Hotel Gala

Labor Day

Jason Reitman blends elements of thriller, melodrama and coming of age tale to create a sumptuous and romantic study of emotional isolation.

Labor Day

  • Director-Screenwriter Jason Reitman
  • Producers Lianne Halfon, Russell Smith, Jason Reitman, Helen Estabrook
  • With Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Clark Gregg
  • USA 2013
  • 111 mins
  • 12A
  • UK distribution Paramount Pictures

Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air) switches from the breezy, satirical approach of his previous work into a deeper, darker exploration of emotional isolation that elegantly weaves together elements of thriller, melodrama and coming-of-age to create this unexpectedly sumptuous and romantic film. Henry (a stand-out turn from Gattlin Griffith) is a sensitive teenager preoccupied with caring for his reclusive mother Adele (Kate Winslet) who has retreated from the world, broken-hearted and fearful, after the breakdown of her marriage to Henry’s father. On a rare shopping trip together they encounter a wounded man, Frank (Josh Brolin), who uses a mixture of charm and intimidation to inveigle his way into the family home. All is not what it seems and, over the course of the Labor Day long weekend, this accidental encounter changes all their lives irrevocably, propelling Henry from adolescent awakening to adult awareness. Working with regular cinematographer Eric Steelberg, Reitman creates a moody atmosphere that oscillates between dark and light, drawing on both the lurking menace of Night of the Hunter and redemptive magic of Beauty and the Beast. Featuring terrific performances from all the cast (including Tom Lipinski as young Frank and Brighid Fleming as Henry’s romantic interest) this is grown-up fairytale at its most dangerous and compelling.

Clare Stewart

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