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Labor Day was adapted from Joyce Maynard's novel of the same name. It tells the story of emotionally-shut divorced woman Adele, played by Kate Winslet, and her supportive 13-year-old son Henry, played by Gattlin Griffith, who spend Labor Day weekend in 1987 in the company of an escaped convict (James Brolin).
The film was lacking in action, and at times the dialogue was slow and even absent. However, both action and dialogue proved unnecessary in a film where emotion was so heavy. Adele and Frank's looks toward one another spoke much more loudly than any words could have. And Henry's expressions of fear mixed with confusion and appreciation were more descriptive than any explanation would have been. The slow pace was an effective way to build up toward the later part of the movie, where you find yourself hoping for the best while knowing it's not coming.
There were so many subtle elements, such as the way Adele's house looked, which was a clear reflection of her emotional state, that surpassed the overly-cheesy ones, like the peach pie baking scene (which played a big role in how the movie ended). Even Henry's narration was sparse and provided only a slightly deeper view into his life with his mother.
As far as the revealing of Adele's true reasons for her emotionally damaged state, there was no simpler way to do so than how it was done in the movie. Frank's crime, or—as is thought by some—the lack thereof, had much “more to the story” than what was on the papers, as we knew from the previews. What we didn't know was how sad the “more” part would be.
Frank and Adele were both on the receiving end of suffering and unfairness in life. Putting aside the question of whether Frank would really take another 20 years for a woman he had only known five days, the great connection between the two characters was undeniable. The acting was great, even for Griffith, of whom we haven't seen much yet. For viewers who love to immerse themselves emotionally into a movie, and who enjoy feeling the heartbreak and loss, but most of all the hope that comes with a story like this, it's a great film.