Adele Wheeler (played by Kate Winslet) is trying to hold it all together. She’s had a few tough years with one thing and another. First, she meets the man of her dreams, Gerald (by Clark Gregg) and their marriage is blissfully happy. But a series of bitter disappointments leads to the erosion of their marriage and Gerald leaves Adele on her own to care for their young son, Henry (by Gattlin Griffith, Dylan Minnette and then Tobey Maguire). Adele has become reclusive and Henry, now a smart, insightful 13 year old, watches his mother struggle with her emotions and her health – he looks after her very carefully. His father, Gerald, is still around but he’s remarried and focusses on the new family far more than on him. Adele and Henry are close and inclusive, so the rest of the town don’t really know too much about them. Henry looks after the day to day needs of the house and Adele does what she can, but their life is tough. One day, a stranger (by Josh Brolin and Tom Lipinski) appears in town. Adele and Henry offer him some help. He invites himself into their home and they discover there’s been a prison break nearby and this man is the fugitive, Frank Chambers. Terrified, Adele and Henry do as they’re told and hope Frank will just take what he needs then be on his way. But, a long weekend is coming – Labor Day – and with the road blocks set up around town, Frank’s not going to get away without help from Adele and Henry. He hangs around the house and slowly they get to know him better. Adele and Henry are caught between their growing fondness for Frank and the law. Should they turn him in? or would their life be a whole lot better if he was part of it?
This is a nice movie. It’s a slow burn but worth the endurance as the story plays out. There are several layers here – the desolation of Adele after her life disappointments, barren relationships and deep love for her son; the awakening curiosity and adolescent innocence of Henry blended with his already well-developed empathy and emotional intelligence; the hard-edge of Frank which masks his own vulnerabilities and emotional needs. These characters are all really interesting and the performances are great. The peripheral characters are important too – Maika Monroe, Brooke Smith, Alexie Gilmore and Brighid Fleming all provide important contributions to the developing story. Micah Fowler is very good as Barry also. Kate Winslet was nominated for a Golden Globe for her work here, which is understandable and much deserved. This movie is a surprise and the ending is good – it’s not what I was expecting, it’s better. Well done.
Made in 2014. Directed by Jason Reitman