New in theaters this week, we have Labor Day starring Kate Winslet as a loveless woman who falls for an escaped convict.
Frank, played by Josh Brolin, was serving 18 years for murder when he manages to break free. He then kidnaps Adele and her adolescent son Henry and hides out in their farmhouse while police search for him. Remarkably, this terrifying situation then turns into a love story as Adele falls for Frank and Henry adopts him as a father figure. Frank goes from the being the scary bad guy to Mr. Handyman and even starts cooking for the family. This leads to one of the most uncomfortable movie scenes I’ve ever seen. Frank & Adele bake a peach pie together, which has all kinds of sexy, sugary connotations, but Adele’s son is standing there watching the whole thing. The folks at my screening were cracking up, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant to be funny.
What’s even stranger is that “Labor Day” was directed by one of my favorites, Jason Reitman, who is known for great movies like “Up in the Air” and “Juno.” Reitman has a sharp eye and even sharper wit, so I’m not sure what went happened here. It’s nice that he branched out and tried new subject matter, but I’m afraid the end result is confusing and sometimes just sloppy. Josh Brolin looks fantastic and Kate Winslet does the best she can with the material but I’m afraid I have to give “Labor Day” a D. In fact, I think I’d rather just go watch “Juno” again.