(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to describe “the cruelest month.” While I wouldn’t go as far as cruel, I applied it to the month of a certain fateful holiday.)


Of all the months throughout the year,
September haunts my soul.
The summer wanes; its dying pains
Serenely take their toll.

The children mourn that school awaits
And wish that time would freeze.
It never does; so says the buzz
Of insects in the trees.

When Labor Day arrives once more
And time begins to slow,
My mind returns and softly yearns
For that time years ago—

When he was in my mother’s house
And shared his every skill
Till Labor Day was snatched away
And trembling hearts were still.

As long as we are incomplete,
September days are dim.
The luster waits to gild those dates
Until we welcome him.

MPAA rating: PG-13

Labor Day is the most romantic movie you’ll ever see about an escaped murderer taking a mother and son hostage. What sounds like a horror movie set-up becomes heartfelt and touching instead. Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin) gives his keepers the slip and hitches a ride home with Adele (Kate Winslet) and her adolescent son Henry (Gattlin Griffith). Instead of threatening them in the basement or the like, Frank instead fixes doors and pipes, changes tires, and bakes pies, and when he ties up Adele strictly for show and then cooks for her and spoon-feeds her, it’s almost surreal. Quickly, it becomes clear that Frank is not dangerous, and Adele’s fragile need for intimacy becomes one more trouble Frank can fix. Of course, he’s a wanted man, and the police are closing in.

Labor Day excels in its warm atmosphere. The radiant summer and subtle quietude brought to mind the tone of some of Studio Ghibli’s calm films, and I could believe how a three-day weekend could have felt much longer to the characters. I did also like the thoughtful details, like hearing a snippet of a Jerry Lewis telethon that used to air every Labor Day weekend. Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin are darn near perfect and have instant chemistry together, although their relationship transitions from dubious to surreal to madly in love a bit too easily. By the end, the film could have become one of those bittersweet tearjerkers that tear me up inside (like Somewhere in Time), but it wasn’t quite involving enough to trigger the waterworks. I’m unsure why, but it was still a poignant romance/coming-of-age tale that touches the heart in all the right ways.

Best line: (Henry) “I don’t think losing my father broke my mother’s heart, but rather losing love itself.”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2016 S. G. Liput

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