Taking a hard left into total straight-faced drama, filmmaker Jason Reitman (Young Adult, Up in the Air) puts Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin in this Stockholm syndrome romance that treads uncomfortably close to last year’s Safe Haven. Through her trembling demeanour and frightened antelope-like glances, Winslet excels in portraying the years of stress that have depleted her agoraphobic character’s agency and Brolin is also consistently solid as her “captor” and love interest. Unfortunately, their bonding scenes fail to convince, with the majority of their romance taking place behind closed doors. A tame five-minute pie baking scene does more to evoke a desire for pie than the desire they supposedly have for each other.
The love story reeks of Nicolas Sparks (“I’d take 20 more years just to have another three days with you,”), but the film is saved by an excellent third act that ramps up the tension of the “kidnapping” scenario. Using superbly subtle, interspersed flashbacks, Brolin’s character is momentously thrown into question – one that directly affects the motives of Winslet’s character’s son (Gattlin Griffith). The narrative gravitates towards the young teen considerably, shifting the film’s priorities to family themes and coming-of-age turns. It does so effectively, though the ideas surrounding young manhood are not that extensively examined compared to the likes of Mud and The Place Beyond the Pines.
‘Labor Day’ Movie Times