Despite my fears that Labor Day could turn out to be in the same lose canon as Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, it’s certainly got its own problems. It’s in the usually safe hands of Jason Reitman, responsible for a string of marvellous indie hits (Thank You For Smoking, Juno, Up In The Air, Young Adult) but whatever merits Joyce Maynard’s source material may have, Labor Day is drowned in the tears of bored housewives. Kate Winslet is the film’s greatest asset playing a melancholic single mum, Adele. While out shopping with her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith), they encounter an intimidating man (Josh Brolin), wounded and asking for a lift, which they nervously oblige. There’s a point early on when it seems like the film is going to stray into Funny Games territory. That’s one of the rare occasions when things feel like they’re going to get interesting, if it wasn’t for recalling the 12A certificate.
Brolin is a large part of the problem, he’s lacking the charisma or danger to seem convincing as the criminal who’s forced his way into the lives of this family. He drifts rather than demands attention. Its all incredibly saccharine and implausible while at the same time trying to be brooding and dark, with Winslet the only real shining light in an awfully middle of the road effort. With such a muddled tone, Stockholm syndrome has never seemed so safe and romantic.