Sunday, September 15, 2013

TIFF 2013: Labor Day (Wow)

Labor Day is based on the book by the same name. Josh Brolin stars as Frank, a wounded escaped convict on the run, who imposes himself on Adele (Kate Winslet) and her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith), laying low at their home until there is a better chance to get away. It turns out that Adele is also a prisoner, in her own home, as she is terrified of going out in public since her husband left and took up with another woman. Henry has become her only human contact, making him somewhat of a prisoner as well.

As Adele and Henry warm up to Frank, we see flashbacks from each of their lives, showing us how they each wound up in their prisons. I had trouble with this part, I think because I have a bit of face blindness, and I had trouble keeping straight whose flashback was whose. Apparently the young actor playing the young Frank looked just like Josh Brolin, but I didn't see that, and I had trouble distinguishing him from the young version of Henry's father, and the young Adele from Frank's wife. That's my problem, not the film's, but it held me up a bit until I sorted it all out.

Director (and screenwriter) Jason Reitman took the stage before and after the film, and told us that he tried very hard to make the film as true as possible to the book. The film has a lot less dialog than most films, telling its story with looks, actions and gestures instead of words in many places. Reitman also said the film was difficult to make because, while in theory it takes place in a house over five days and one of the characters has no wardrobe changes, the flashbacks added a lot of complexity.

It's a beautiful story masterfully told, with very strong performances from the 3 lead actors. it got more tears out of me than any other film of the festival so far, and as soon as I got to the theatre for my next film, I ordered the book on my Kindle (the book is always better than the movie, right?).

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