Michaela Watkins has long been stealing scenes on television. She was the best wife on Trophy Wife, no small feat when your competition is Malin Akerman and Marcia Gay Harden. She managed to stand out among a powerhouse ensemble on Wet Hot American Summer and stole scenes from actors like Jeffrey Tambor and Bradley Whitford in the best episode of Transparent.
Ambition can be the enemy of precision. With its multiple storylines and subplots, there is no denying the overarching ambition of Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children. What seems to be missing, however, is the attention to detail required to craft a rewarding and engaging film. The good ideas are undermined by ‘Young Adult’ clichés, and the interesting stories aren’t given enough time to flourish. The end result is a messy little film that doesn’t offer enough insight to warrant enduring the melancholy.
Labor Day is far darker and perilous than writer/director Jason Reitman’s previous fare. Illness, broken hearts, and tragedy take center stage. Characters are not coddled and nothing feels ironic. Judging from this outing, drama may suit Reitman better than the snappy, sardonic exchanges we’ve gotten used to from him. Kate Winslet plays Adele, a woman long ago drained of love for the world, raising a son that wants to believe that a pure, transformative and truly supportive love exists for his mother. Into their lives enters Frank (Josh Brolin), an escaped convict who takes them hostage and back to their home to wait out the heat from the cops. Brought together by circumstance, what develops between the three of them is something surprising, rich, and strange.