TIFF 2013 Review: Labor Day
Josh Brolin has a presence to himself unlike any other. When we first meet his Frank in Jason Reitman’s focused, atmospheric family drama, he is a disheveled, imposing figure with tempered speech, one part desperation, one part determination.
Frank needs help, in pain and on the run. The first 25 minutes are tense: he meets 13-year-old Henry at a store, asking for him and his shy mother to take him in – and only accepting one answer. It may be that Frank is simpler than he initially appears as his wild eyes start to soften.
Adele (Kate Winslet), for her part, may instead be more complex. A reclusive divorced mother with a protective son, she reluctantly takes in Frank in this drama that spans six days in 1980s New England and teasingly steps into the past, slowly peeling back layers to their respective stories.
As he bides time, Frank fills a void in his life, assuming roles of a husband and father, in turn filling a space for Adele and Henry. Tension comes in waves, and while some of the themes are familiar, Reitman handles them with inspiring beauty. Brolin and Winslet are stellar, even if their fate seems predictable.
You do immediately care about both, and Henry too, the idealistic and watchful boy from whose perspective the story is told. This film is slower, more seeped than Reitman’s other works, and while it may not be especially novel, it’s winning; the ending though may be too much.
Saturday September 7 – Ryerson Theatre – 6:00 PM
Sunday September 8 – TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 – 9:00 AM
Saturday September 14 – Ryerson Theatre – 6:00 PM