After a very romantic Valentine’s Day weekend spent with your loved one (or cats), there was at some point a trip to the movie theater made. There weren’t very many romantic options so I’m pretty sure most of you probably ended up seeing Labor Day starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. It is very natural to leave the movie thinking “what the f***”, and that’s not because the story was bad, but less then 2 hours is not enough to even scratch the surface of the story.
For those of you that had problems with the story, let me clarify some information. Yes, Adele (Kate Winslet) is an agoraphobic single mother who willingly (after not much time) harbors escaped fugitive Frank (Josh Brolin), with who she ends up having a very intense relationship that lasts all of a few days. In these few days, there is a lot of bondage, father-son style bonding, and a semi-erotic family pie making session. No, that last one is not a euphemism.
As you should know by now, movies based are rarely as good as the book itself. This is no exception. Get rid of the notion that the love story between Adele and Frank is nothing more than a very advanced case of stockholm syndrome, and that the son Henry is nothing more than a boy desperate for any male figure to become part of his life because while it may be partially true, it is also more complicated than that.
Without giving away any spoilers (just because you saw the movie doesn’t mean there isn’t still a surprise or two to be had), here are a few reasons to read the book:
1) Love Story: The majority of this story takes place during an extended Labor Day weekend. If you don’t think anyone can fall deep in love in that amount of time, you must not have read “Romeo & Juliet”. In the book, each day feels so much longer than 24 hours. You understand the motivations and circumstances behind their love and it comes off as endearing and romantic rather than creepy and desperate.
2) Coming-of-Age Story: Despite how much the film version billed itself as primarily a love story, the actual story is told from adult Henry’s recollection on the weekend in the summer where his life changed. The focus of the story is how a convict-on-the-run taught him about honor and how to be a man. Frank pulled him out of the monotony of his life and treated him as the adult he was now becoming. The love story between Adele and Frank is secondary to this because Henry has his own love connection.
3) Drama: They condense or eliminate most of the side stories that are in the book, but those are essential to providing needed tension and drama in the story. Without mentioning specifics, there a few of them you will love and some you can’t believe they didn’t include in the film.
4) Mental Casting: When you read a book, you create a composite image in your head of what you expect each character to look or sound like. Since many of you (like me) saw the film first, it makes it so much easier to picture every character. If the film did any right, it would have to be the casting starting with Kate Winslet and going all the way to grown-up Henry, played by Tobey Maguire. I wouldn’t be surprised if while you read the book, Tobey Maguire’s voice is narrating it in your head.
I’m not saying the movie is awful. It was beautifully done and well acted, but the story itself has been so gutted that you never fully understand the motivations of each character as you only can through reading the book. So obviously you should now go read the book.
IN THEATERS NOW