Josh Brolin, who never seems to quite breach that line between popular actor and A list star, is one of my favorite actors working today and really deserves the recognition for the work he is doing. He takes a wide array of roles and fully immerses himself in each one giving unique and compelling performances that really make him stand out among his colleagues. After the brilliant performance in Spike Lee’s Oldboy Brolin is back in a very different role alongside Kate Winslet in Labor Day. And while the film seemed to be marketed as another film like The Notebook, it is a very different film than that and really needs to be given a chance.
Set in the late 80s, Labor Day is the story of Adele (Kate Winslet) and her 13 year old son Henry (Gattlin Griffith). While shopping Henry is approached by a man named Frank (Brolin) who convinces Adele to take him to their home to help with wounds he has. They soon discover Frank is a fugitive but over the Labor Day weekend they spend together Frank and Adele fall in love and plan to leave with Henry to Canada to start a life together. But with the police on the hunt in town for the fugitive, it will not be easy.
If I were to pick a film to compare Labor Day to, it certainly would not be films like The Notebook that is was portrayed to be like in its trailers. It is more akin to films like Clint Eastwood’s A Perfect World with its themes of crime, love and relationship intricacies. Brolin, Winslet and Griffith are all phenomenal here and the story is well paces, deliberate and often ominous. It is hard to fathom that their plan will work at all but you still end up rooting for them even before learning anyone’s backstories. Labor Day is directed with confidence and masterfulness by Jason Reitman, whose past films have all dealt with complex relationships but not in such a dark way. This is a really great film and it is a shame that it came and went from theatres with little fanfare. If audiences knew what they were getting it could well have been a different story. Hopefully it will find its audience on Blu-ray and DVD.
The Blu-ray from Paramount Home Media is a gorgeous transfer. Most of the film takes place in the house of the main characters and for all that time the colors are rich and the detail and clarity are excellent. When the film does venture outside the house the quality holds up just as well and the audio is quiet but effective. A solid drama with thriller overtones that is highly recommended and worth picking up.
Available Now on Blu-ray and DVD.