Labor Day is weird. Among all Jason Reitman‘s work, this movie is the oddest.
While gathering Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin together on screen, their performances couldn’t offset the terrible plot and some scenes that left me quite perplex. It was weird watching it and weird experiencing some very particular emotions.
If the film was predictable, either in its development or in its end, some events caused profound intern confusions.
But let’s go through the story; Kate Winslet plays Adele a divorced mother, raising her 13-year-old son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith) on her own. Since her husband left her for his secretary, Adele stopped going out anymore, except on very rare occasions. That day, she goes to the supermarket with her son, and lucky form them Frank (Josh Brolin) appears in front of Henry, bleeding. He quickly sort of blackmails the family into taking him with them to their house.
Not surprising at all, Adele will fall in love with him, and Henry finds a new paternalistic figure, who doesn’t wait a long before teaching him baseball. But Frank is also a handyman, fixing every thing he can around the house. A perfect man, wrongly convicted (Labor Day’ screenplay isn’t the most original one.)
The icing on the cake? He cooks. That element, will provide the most senseless and bizarre scenes, one of them which I bet will become cult.
After tying Adele to a chair with lot of sensuality and for some logical purpose, he goes and cooks chili con carne. He decides then to feed the woman himself with a spoon.
But this scene wasn’t the oddest. When later, a neighbor brings to Adele and Henry his regular bucket of almost rotten peaches, Frank decides that, to make profits from those, a pie would be the perfect solution. Its preparation included mixing the peaches with other ingredients, therefore our three characters blended their hands with the peaches, in a same bowl, and that gave a very laughable scene.
Made me also wonder about all that food fetishism, either in the cooking, or the elements chosen, such as the fruit.
I also asked myself if Reitman was aware of those ridiculous aspects while directing his movie, or adapting the novel of Joyce Maynard into a screenplay. While Kate Winslet perfectly embodied her character, with which I strongly empathized to some extent, and Josh Brolin who just fit into his comfort zone, I didn’t understand that story, and some of its aspects.
Predictable and grotesque it left me in great perplexity. Especially when the cinematography of Eric Steelberg was of an extreme beauty, refined, and some shots were breathtaking and could have been very interesting if the story material was sufficient enough and supported it.