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Telluride Review: Jason Reitman's 'Labor Day' Starring Josh Brolin & Kate Winslet

The Playlist By Chris Willman | The Playlist August 29, 2013 at 9:25PM

Short of helming a "Smurfs" sequel, it's tough to imagine writer-director Jason Reitman going for a greater change of pace than he has with "Labor Day," a full-immersion exercise in the old-fashioned women's weepie that skews far closer to Nicholas Sparks' brand of contrivance than Diablo Cody territory. Give him credit for breaking with trademark satirical impulses so completely that counting the laughs in his self-penned script — based on a 2010 Joyce Maynard novel — doesn't require two hands. But the (sorry) laboriousness of the plot's romance-novel machinations ensures there'll be at least a few dry eyes in the house.
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Labor Day

Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere: “It’s not a catastrophe but it felt to me like a sensitive humanist misfire."

Hitfix: “My immediate takeaway from Jason Reitman's "Labor Day," which kicks off the Telluride Film Festival this afternoon at the annual patrons screening, was that it was an unexpected mature step for the filmmaker who has offered up such self-aware films as "Thank You For Smoking," "Juno," "Up in the Air" and "Young Adult." There isn't a whiff of that tone here whatsoever. The edge that has defined Reitman's work has been set aside while a more refined, lived-in aesthetic has taken hold." 

Marlow Stern, The Daily Beast: "Winslet, in particular, should garner some award consideration for her turn as a woman so beaten down by life she can barely hold a pen without shaking uncontrollably. It’s a far more measured—and affecting—performance than her boisterous, Oscar-winning turn in The Reader."

Peter Debruge, Variety: "'Labor Day' brims with such carefully observed details, all of them a little too elegant to feel entirely genuine, and yet impossible to fault — apart from the underlying premise, of course, which is plenty troubling: that a misunderstood killer is just the father/lover this incomplete family needs to feel whole again."

Eric Kohn, Indiewire: "Because it adheres to a noticeably restrained literary style, 'Labor Day' at times feels almost too muted for its rather bizarre subject matter, which finds an escaped convict falling in love with a woman he takes hostage and becoming a surrogate father for her son. But Reitman largely cedes control to a tightly wound cast and lets the somber tone find its way."

William Goss, Film.com: “As consistently assured a piece of filmmaking as any we've seen from Reitman.”

Anne Thompson, Thompson On Hollywood: “Reitman takes us on a ride that never flags and often surprises with real emotion.”

Tomris Laffly: “Labor Day: Untypical Reitman. Quietly lyrical/brings Malick to mind. Off-putting 1st-yet yields into sthg beautiful where labor equals love. U can feel Reitman's honesty as you go deep into Labor Day. He got great work out of his cast. Audience absolutely loved it- this will last.”

Lisa Kennedy: “If Jason Reitman's "Labor Day" sets the tone of @TellurideFilm #teary, it's gonna be a good one. Newcomer Gattlin Griffith wonderful.”

Eugene Novikov, Film Blather: “LABOR DAY (C+) Reitman feels the need to amp up the drama, and unloads a honking dump of backstory that's contrived and maudlin in a mode that I had thought was the exclusive province of Nicholas Sparks..”

Alex Billington, First Showing: “Labor Day - Floored. Jason's best work? Maybe. Explores very deep emotions, relationships, intimacy in a masterful way. Bravo. #telluride13”

This article is related to: Telluride Film Festival, Labor Day, Jason Reitman, Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Reviews, Review


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