Stockholm Syndrome much? ‘Labor Day’ sends patronizing, dangerous message
or How love can destroy a person and his or her good judgment
Josh Brolin plays escaped prisoner Frank, a convicted of murder, who convinces mother Adele, played by Kate Winslet, to take him home with the threat of implied violence that he may do to her son, played by Gattlin Griffith.
While this may be a great set-up for a movie where the mother fights back, it is a repugnant story when the two people fall in love.
Adele is an agoraphobe whose husband, played by Clark Gregg of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has left her because he could not take the tragedy of her multiple miscarriages. Bereft of his love and the ability to have children, she has retreated to a place where the world is not so painful and forsaken all love, except that of her son.
The story is told from Henry’s point of view, and he is just figuring out that he is not equipped to give his mother all of the kinds of love that a person needs to live a full life. He isn’t fully aware of those needs, but he knows that his love is inadequate.
Enter Frank who politely accosts Henry, during the monthly grocery store visit, with a hint of violence and gets Henry to introduce him to Henry’s mom.
At home, Adele says several things, the only one which was convincing is that she would not let Frank hurt Henry.
She is then tenderly tied up and sensually fed homemade chili that includes hot cocoa in it – a nod to Frank’s knowledge of how to cook even if we never find out why he knows such a thing.
Not to worry because Frank is a Jack-of-all-trades, who fixes the car, the furnace, the squeaky step and several other maintenance issues while teaching Henry how to throw a baseball and bake a pie.
Adele teaches Frank to rumba; they fall in love and decide to move to Canada.
All of this takes five days stretching credibility to beyond the breaking point while possibly giving women and men the idea that it is a good idea to pick up a convicted murderer just escaped from prison.
The murder in question is shown in flashbacks and is unjustifiable if sad.
And just to be nit-picky – the film is called Labor Day. Why has it been released in January?
If you can move past the storyline (and if you have read this far, maybe you can), you will find that the actors do a great job conveying the emotions and motivations within the confines of their contrived characters. The music adds an appropriate amount of tension and creepiness to the whole scenario.
However, you are much better off experiencing The Spectacular Now or The Way, Way Back; neither of which is in theaters.
See Romney's Review of Labor Day