| May 6, 2014

Labor-DayEDITORIAL – Upon discovering Labor Day was out on On Demand I was thrilled to sit down and watch it. Labor Day, unfortunately did not come out on Labor Day, but in January 2014 and what a pleasure it is. Even though it is most definitely a chick fiick (our main character is a tall, dark, and handsome tragic hero who’s just flawed enough to be compassionate and understanding), it offers enough stress and confusion to have kept me interested past the ridiculous story line. Or is it—ridiculous, that is? Labor Day is a delicate film which explores the intricacies of the mother and son relationship, reality versus expectations, as well as not how love changes a person but how a person must change in order to love.

As the film opens we are introduced to a mother’s son. Coming up on seventh grade, his maturity level has expanded well beyond his years due to the fact he feels he must take care of his damaged mother. Unfortunately, he needs new pants. While the viewer may not understand up front why Kate Winslet is seemingly terrified of a public experience, we immediately try to tie down our own conclusions. Told in flash backs of someone’s memory as well as up close and personal emotions, we understand that this doesn’t seem to be the typical mother/son relationship. She needs more from him; he needs more from her. The conversation about the birds and the bees is enough to make the viewer squirm in his or her seat; why is this mother describing sexual hunger to her twelve year old?

Enter a convict. He’s stolen clothes, he’s blackmailed Kate Winslet, he’s threatened her son, and he’s disrupting their lives. Upon his “request” to take him home after his escape from jail, Kate Winslet and her son come to the haunting conclusion that the man in their home is a convicted murderer.

The stress is palpable, but so is the tenderness, as he not only gently ties up her hands and feet (so if he is caught she will not appear to be harboring a fugitive), but also her mind. And then, this escaped convict makes chili, naturally. And it looks delicious. He also mops the floor, makes peach pie, teaches her son how to play baseball, as well as change a tire. Typical convict behavior.

Why shouldn’t she fall in love with him? BECAUSE HE’S A CONVICT you’ll no doubt be screaming at the screen, unless you’ve fallen for him too. The ultimate underdog story is a paradox when related to the typical love story. This is so unrealistic I kept thinking to myself throughout the film, but then again, so are romantic comedies which are made for the viewer to believe they are realistic. Therefore, the definition of love must be something that is unrealistic. It is unrealistic to be able to put away someone else’s flaws in order to see them as they want to be seen. In this way, falling in love with a murderous convict is just as strange as falling in love with someone who’s your wedding planner, or your maid, or some guy you ran into as you were waiting in line to get coffee. Yet, we still watch the movies based on this ridiculous standard and hope for them to come true. So, why can’t we hope the same for this doomed relationship? Possibly even moreso, given the danger.

In this way, Labor Day explores the possibility of love, in all of its forms; snarky teenage girl love, father son love, mother son love, and convict Kate Winslet love by understanding that the reason this type of love is possible is not because love changed them, but because these people changed their mind in order to let love in. At the risk of sounding cheesy, Labor Day is a film which dictates and measures the labor of love not so that the people who are in love overlook each other’s flaws, or that love is too blind to see these flaws, but that people see the people they are in love with in the way they want to be seen. The ultimate test of love is not that you can forget about the fact that your significant other smacks their food when they eat, but that you can understand he or she wants to be classy or daintily, adorably flawed and choose only to seem him/her in this manner. An easy, breezy love story is made equally stressful and disorienting and therefore, it is my hope I have left enough of the story out to keep you wondering. Watch it tonight. It’s On Demand. And let me know what you think.

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