LABOR DAY (Paramount, 2013) D: Jason Reitman, w/ Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin. Rating: NNN; Blu-ray package: NNN Rating: NNN
In Labor Day, director Jason Reitman (Juno, Up In The Air) crafts a well-balanced and very watchable mix of suspense, coming-of-age drama and love story from a tale that in other hands could have been pure mush.
Pubescent Henry (Gattlin Griffith) and his depressed, agoraphobic single mother, Adele (Kate Winslet), are approached for help by an injured and polite but menacing stranger (Josh Brolin). They take him home and in short order discover that Frank's an escaped murderer.
Relationships shift in unexpected ways, and Reitman is adept at finding new sources of suspense to go with those shifts.
Barring the voice-over by the adult Henry (Tobey Maguire), the storytelling is largely visual, the dialogue sparse and functional. Brolin walks a line between manliness and menace, Winslet's inward-looking gaze suggests complex misery, and Griffith holds his fear just below the surface.
Reitman heads a thoroughly detailed group commentary that covers a broad range of production topics from the need for a location shoot through the reasons why Maguire was the first and only choice for the adult Henry's voice-over.
EXTRAS Commentary, making-of doc. English, French, Spanish, Portuguese audio and subtitles.