Critics attending the Telluride Film Festival got to celebrate Labor Day early last week by taking in the world premiere of Jason Reitman's new movie, which happens to be titled Labor Day. That's not just some clever name for a story about a birth or about an unemployed person trying to get a job. It's actually set for the most part during Labor Day weekend. Specifically Labor Day weekend, 1987.
Based on the novel by Joyce Maynard and scripted by Reitman with narration by Tobey Maguire, Labor Day is about a 13-year-old boy (Gatlin Griffith) who goes back-to-school shopping with his reclusive mom (Kate Winslet) and they wind up going home with more than new clothes -- namely a bleeding stranger played by Josh Brolin.
Is it any good? Could it bring more Oscar nominations for Reitman (and his players), a prior four-time contender via Juno and Up in the Air? Should it have fittingly officially come out on Labor Day weekend? (It opens in limited release on Christmas.) Check out the buzz on the film and its performances below:
"As consistently assured a piece of filmmaking as any we’ve seen from the filmmaker and very much in keeping with the decreasingly glib nature of his output, although such naked sentiment does pile on in the home stretch." - William Goss, Film.com
"Rich though the film may be, it doesn't have the swagger others have come to expect of his filmmaking, which was already assured, and it's an incredible step in a different direction for the 35-year-old director...it's unusual to see a filmmaker tap another perspective on narrative so confidently this early in a career." - Kris Tapley, In Contention
"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'...for anyone who thought emotional complexity would be a hallmark of all Reitman's films, that peach pie is a little hard to swallow." - Chris Willman, The Playlist
"A significant departure for the director...Griffith, a genuine discovery, ably conveys a mindset awkwardly stuck between personal desires and mature thought process." - Eric Kohn, Indiewire
"Griffith isn't necessarily a revelation, but he's pretty damn close...another strong performance by Winslet who once again proves she might be the second best living actress on the planet after Meryl Streep (and she is likely the film's strongest awards player)." - Gregory Ellwood, HitFix
"Reitman takes us on a ride that never flags and often surprises with real emotion...[Winslet's] delicately sensual performance should generate Oscar talk. But Brolin matches her as a strong, dangerous and sexy leading man." - Anne Thompson, Thompson on Hollywood
"Winslet for lead, Brolin for supporting nominations. Screenplay. I’d also go Art Direction. Best Picture seems a sure bet." - Sasha Stone, Awards Daily
"This is ultimately an uneven film, with a rather out-there premise if you stop to think about it...the film ends satisfyingly, leaving much of the audience in tears, and that may be enough to keep most moviegoers from asking too many questions about the rest of it." - Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter
"[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." - Eugene Novikov, Film Blather
"A third act even Nicholas Sparks would envy...a powerful — if implausible — romance." - Peter DeBruge, Variety
"Brolin delivers his best performance since No Country For Old Men, but — I’m sorry but this has to be said — Reitman’s movie isn’t very satisfying. It doesn’t get it. It’s not a catastrophe but it felt to me like a sensitive humanist misfire." - Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere
"I was so affected, so emotionally wrapped up in the story and the characters, that I'm still having trouble putting together the right words to explain my feelings on this masterful film. Is it Reitman's best work? I think so." - Alex Billington, First Showing
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