Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin heat up the screen in such a way that is sending mixed reviews. Many ponder if it is a riveting love story that could be as timeless as Ghost or whether the film is just another guilty pleasure that hits the season just in time for a football embedded weekend. This film was directed by the maker of Up in the Air and Juno’s, Jason Reitman and is based of Joyce Maynard’s book entitled, Labor Day.
Labor Day is reviewed by the Boston Globe to be a star-crossed romance that gives the audience scenes of a somber affair. The film is set in 1987 and stars Kate Winslet as Adele, a New Hampshire mother who is single and in a state of reclusive and depressant behaviors due to her husbands recent abandonment. Adele’s thirteen year old son, Henry, played by Gattlin Griffith, is protective of his mother and sensitive to understanding the events of her life and the affair. Josh Brolin plays Frank, who is an escaped convict that is portrayed in a sensitive and manly light. Frank takes Henry and Adele hostage after threatening them both at a local supermarket.
Through the events of a Labor Day weekend, Frank and Adele, both damaged through events of their lives end up falling in love with one another and finding a renewal of life within each another. All the while, the audience hears the narrating voice of an adult Henry, played by Toby Maguire, who is the only witness to the events as he attempts to understand his mother and the circumstances that surrounds his life.
Upon being taken hostage Frank begins to assist Adele and Henry in working on their broken homes surroundings. While on the house property, the film gives the idea that they are literally making a world with in their own. One where they can be together and one where the statewide manhunt for Frank passes by without detecting their presence. The scene that The Daily Beast compares to the romantic pottery scene from Ghost is when Frank is teaching Adele how to utilize her almost rotten peaches in making a sensual homemade pie. Labor Day picks up heat on the big screen, with what the audience, director and author of the original story, call the “pie scene.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Maynard wrote the book based off her memoir which gives a detailed account of her 11th month love affair with J.D. Salinger. Maynard tells the San Francisco Chronicle that she absolutely loves this adaptation of her story, and says the film is true to the spirit and heart of the book.
For this author, like many, it is an extremely personal story. She also expresses her thoughts about how this story will connect with many who have what she calls “miles on them” but still know what it really means to yearn for that willing romantic. She does state that she was not the same as Winslet’s portrayal of Adele. She did not have a reclusive period of her life, but instead desired the intimacy with others and was always working for her kids and embedding herself within her community surroundings. However, when asked what Maynard’s favorite scene from the movie was she simply replied, “the pie scene, of course.” This scene for this author has very sentimental attachment. To the San Francisco Chronicle, she recalls a time right before the death of her mother when she was taught to make her mothers notorious pies. The pie scene itself had the artistry of Maynard on set.
In the summer of 2009, Reitman called her up and expressed the desire to make her book into a film, telling Maynard that he loved it and asking her if she would teach him how to make a pie. Maynard responded with excitement and the workings of this film began. This film offers an off beat love story that is unexpected with a different twist and dangerously sensitive male figure that possesses dominance with and without demonstrating threat.
Reviews have proclaimed the film in both lights, a sap for the Nicholas Sparks readers and a story that stands alone in a dark and gritty way as another notorious romantic film. The reviews and viewers alike may each contain mixed feelings, but the fact remains the same, whether for one’s single lived guilty pleasure or for the purpose of a timeless scene this Labor Day love story will heat up the screen.
By Sarah Widger