The guy who is bleeding from his side needs help. But he’s not asking; he’s telling. That’s the setup for the drama Labor Day, starring Josh Brolin as an escaped convict who takes shelter with a mentally fragile, reclusive single mom (Kate Winslet) and her teenage son (Changeling’s Gattlin Griffith) over the course of one long late-summer holiday weekend in New England.
Whether they are helpers or hostages is a question even in their own minds. Brolin’s Frank Chambers displays a tenderness toward the frightened mother and son, but the news reports describe him as dangerous — and he isn’t exactly forthcoming about why he was in prison in the first place. In the scene shown here, a simple knock at the door sets everyone’s nerves on edge. ”It’s an immediate reminder of the danger that’s in the house,” says director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), who adapted the screenplay from Joyce Maynard’s 2009 novel. Is Brolin’s grip meant to keep her safe — or keep her quiet? ”That image is meant to say both things at the same time,” Reitman says. ”There is an undeniable bond, they’re both scared, but they both seem to need each other.” Or they might just be the worst thing in the world for each other.