"Well Made, But Problematic"
What You Need To Know:
LABOR DAY is a well-acted romantic drama. A mysterious escaped convict named Frank forces a divorced woman, Adele, and her young teenage son, Henry, to help him evade the police. Frank is menacing until they are all at Adele’s house outside the town. Frank starts to repair numerous things in Adele’s house and cooks wonderfully, including an incredible peach pie. He tells Adele and Henry not to believe everything that’s in the news about his story. Soon, he and Adele are falling for one another. Meanwhile, flashbacks tell the tragic stories of how Frank and Adele ended up where they are.
LABOR DAY is beautifully shot, with rich characters and terrific actors to portray them. Its story is simple yet powerfully developed. LABOR DAY has some uplifting moral, redemptive moments. However, the characters make some questionable moral decisions. This content reflects a Non-Christian, Romantic worldview. The characters are not all bad, however, even the female lead’s husband who’s married another woman. The movie also contains some violence and sexual references, but, surprisingly, no foul language. LABOR DAY’s questionable elements warrant extreme caution.
(Pa, RoRo, B, C, V, S, A, MM) Mixed pagan worldview with strong Romantic elements mitigated by some moral content regarding human relationships and some redemptive content where man sacrifices his own happiness to protect two people he loves; no foul language; some violence, with no blood, includes flashback scene shows male lead pushing his mocking wife, and she falls and fatally hits her head on a radiator, a stillborn birth, implied accidental drowning of a baby as water overflows bathtub, woman character harshly slaps her disabled son, and man has bloody wound from an appendix operation, fantasy sequence during which boy imagines two police bullets hitting car windshield as he takes cover by lying on the backseat, and escaped convict instinctively grabs woman once and boy once when a person unexpectedly comes knocking on the woman’s door; implied fornication in one bedroom scene and implied fornication elsewhere, plus flashback shows young couple getting married after woman becomes pregnant, and later woman reveals to husband that the baby’s not his, and precocious young teenage girl befriends young teenage boy and gives him a kiss, and she talks with him about his mother and her boyfriend “having sex” and makes the boy fearful his mother might leave him or abandon him; no nudity; light alcohol use in one or two scenes; no smoking or drugs; and, escaped convict implies threats against divorced mother and son so they take him to their house, mother and son soon befriend convict and help him evade the law, deception, and lying.
LABOR DAY is a superbly directed, well-acted, character-driven tale of an escaped criminal who hides out with a divorced woman and her young teenage son over a five-day weekend that alters their lives forever. LABOR DAY has a mixed worldview, with Romantic elements mitigated slightly by some moral elements.
In the story, Adele is a single mom of a 13-year-old son named Henry. Adele apparently has been traumatized by her divorce a few years before. She’s phobic of everything in her town, so she only goes out monthly to shop for supplies. While shopping, a mysterious man named Frank asks Henry and Adele to get him out of the store where they meet and out of the area.
Frank is menacing at first, and soon they are all at Adele’s house outside the town. Frank is hiding out from police roadblocks searching for him because he’s an escaped convict. He starts to repair numerous things in Adele’s house and cooks wonderfully, including an incredible peach pie. Meanwhile, he tells Adele and Henry not to believe everything that’s in the news about his story.
This brief respite provides an odd normalcy for Adele and Frank, two damaged souls desperate for attention and love. It also provides Henry with a father figure outside his nice but somewhat distant real father. As the trio hides from neighbors and the police during the long Labor Day weekend, it quickly becomes clear that Frank and Adele are so caught up in their emotions they’ve decided to run away together. This plan leads to unforeseen complications that affect the rest of their lives.
During all this, flashbacks reveal how Frank ended up in jail. Eventually, Adele tells Frank the sad story of what drove her and her husband apart. (SPOILER ALERT: The reason behind their breakup has to do with the reason why they never had any other children besides Henry.)
LABOR DAY is a beautifully shot movie with rich characters and terrific actors to portray them. Its story is simple yet powerfully handled. As Frank and Adele help each other through the movie’s Labor Day weekend, the movie shows itself partly as a tale of love and forgiveness.
The good news is that there is absolutely no foul language in LABOR DAY. However, there are some sexual references and brief violence includes flashback scene shows male lead pushing his mocking wife, and she falls and fatally hits her head on a radiator, a stillborn birth, and implied accidental drowning of a baby as water overflows bathtub.
The movie also has some strong, morally problematic Romantic elements. For example, the female lead and her son help the escaped convict evade the law after he shows them some kindness. The convict becomes a father figure to the son, teaching him how to hit a baseball better in one scene. Though the real father has re-married and seems distant at first, a couple scenes show he does care for the son. He also expresses regret to his son for the reasons behind his breakup with his first wife. Thus, LABOR DAY has some moral, redemptive elements. The problem is, no one in the story appeals to God or anything transcendent (such as biblical truth) to help them with their problems.
Ultimately, LABOR DAY is a very well made “chick flick,” but the problems with the story and characters warrant strong or extreme caution.