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

by Chris Willman
August 29, 2013 9:25 PM
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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, “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”

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  • junohater | September 17, 2013 1:09 PMReply

    Mainstream film (and most non-mainstream film) is a losing proposition these days. When will film-goers get over their Stockholm Syndrome with Hollywood and realize they're not getting what they pay for?

  • catherine | September 13, 2013 3:15 AMReply

    I expected to see some improvements in my love life after I contacted Ekaka and asked him to send out a spell to the Universe for me, but I didn’t expect a life-changing experience, that’s for sure! Still, though, that’s what I got! I’m not only in love, I’m going to be moving to my soon-to-be-fiance’s state next month! We probably would never even have met if it weren’t for ekakaspelltemple@yahoocom and his wonderful powers of peace and love. I wish you all the peace and love you sent me, DR Ekaka.

  • MDL | September 4, 2013 3:58 PMReply

    This is a film I rather enjoyed while watching it but once I started thinking about it I realized its weaknesses. Reitman said he followed the book very closely which means the blame, perhaps, can go to the author more than the filmmaker. However, it seems that sometimes visualizing the action of a book can create issues that might not arise when compared to reading a book.

  • Alex P | August 31, 2013 1:10 AMReply

    Great review. Looking forward to seeing it regardless to see whether I synch up with you or not.

  • kamikamran | August 30, 2013 6:09 AMReply

    this is really a good Movie[that i haven't seen yet]

  • james | August 30, 2013 12:03 AMReply

    Nepotism, no talent.

  • Oogle monster | August 29, 2013 11:19 PMReply

    Kinda bummed to see such mixed reactions. As a HUGE fan of Young Adult (I agree- seriously underrated and hands down Reitman's best work to date), I was hoping he would knock Labor Day out of the park. It's one of my favorite novels in recent years and it's actually perfectly tailored for film.

  • yer | August 29, 2013 9:47 PMReply

    I'm not a fan of Reitman as a director at all. He's completely bland and paint by the numbers. He makes a slew of good but never great films that lack any type of artistic flair. He kind of reminds me of Alexander Payne in that regard. Just dull stuff all around.

  • jean vigo | August 30, 2013 1:21 AM

    I was thinking the same thing - the similarities to Alexander Payne. It's s if he's followed Payne's methodology by-the-numbers. I never "got" either's work. I don't often agree with critic Armnd White, but he nailed it about Payne when he said his films felt "very minor." It's true. Much critical ado about not very much....
    Both filmmakers also share the process of taking other people's ideas/stories and adapting them. Nepotism is immaterial to me; Reitman is OK - not a hack nor an auteur.

  • Ken Guidry | August 29, 2013 10:10 PM

    Thank You For Smoking and Juno had plenty of "artistic flair," man. Watch them again. But I do think he's toned things down considerably with his last two films, which relied primarily on story and characters. If that's the case again with Labor Day, then I can see why it may not have been as engrossing a film. But seriously, I didn't even realize until I watched them again, but he did a lot of interesting stuff with those films.

  • Ken Guidry | August 29, 2013 9:45 PMReply

    Well this is disappointing. I hope I disagree!

  • sheyla | August 29, 2013 9:33 PMReply

    I hope Anne Thompson takes Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant, into consideration.

  • oogle monster | August 29, 2013 11:19 PM


  • douche | August 29, 2013 9:31 PMReply

    you guys gonna do a write up of sorcerer or fucking what? nothing on sorcerer really really really????????? nothing on friedkins golden lion nothing nothing. for reals fucking do something already been waiting all fucking day.

  • SHEYLA | August 30, 2013 11:59 AM


  • douche | August 29, 2013 10:00 PM

    Happy to help tom. Haven't you wanted some sorcerer today as well? If i was at venice man my ass would've made that a top priority son.

  • Tom | August 29, 2013 9:41 PM

    This is the funniest thing I've read all day.

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