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Terry's Take

Movie Review: LABOR DAY

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Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin star in LABOR DAY, a new movie that hasn't done well with a majority of the nation's critics, but I think they're wrong.

The film is a sweet and touching story of unexpected love between a depressed single mother and a troubled escaped convict.

Many critics find their story unrealistic, but I found myself rooting for two emotionally wounded people who deserve a chance at finding happiness.

We see the story through the eyes of 12 year old Henry played by Gattlin Griffith.

Henry (voice over): I don't think losing my father broke my mother's heart but rather losing love itself.  Her hands started shaking beyond her control.  Just leaving the house was difficult for her.
 
It's 1987.  Mother and son are on their once-a-month trip to a supermarket where they meet Frank, the escapee played by Josh Brolin.
  
Henry: Mom, this is Frank.
Frank: He was kind enough to offer me a ride.
Adele: We really can't help you.
Frank: Frankly, this needs to happen.

Kate Winslet is utterly convincing as Adele, a fragile woman, so deeply depressed after multiple miscarriages that her husband has abandoned her.

Josh Brolin's Frank is both kind and threatening as a convicted murderer who demands to be taken home by the mother and her son. He's bleeding and in no shape to be running from the law.

Frank: I'd be grateful if you let me lay low for a few days. I can try and help out.
 
The tension in the household is real (Will this desperate man hurt them?), but even though at first he ties her to a chair,  you can also tell that this man and woman are kindred spirits.

Frank: I've never intentionally hurt anyone in my life. You won't be needing that rope any longer. If you tell anyone I tied you up, you won't be lying.

Gradually, over Labor Day weekend, trust and understanding begin to grow. And we learn that the truth of Frank's crime is not what it seems.
       
In the film's most celebrated scene, Frank shows Adele and Henry how to make a peach pie, a process that brings them closer together. Now, I grant you this is the kind of thing that probably only happens in fiction, but the emotional truth of it is strong and clear. It worked for me.

Henry (in voice over): They were two people who couldn't go out into the world, so they made a world with each other.

LABOR DAY is a delicate  romance. It works because of fine acting, a beautiful, understated musical score, and a script that understands the universal longing for human connection.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now                  thunter@hawaiinewsnow.com