Despite emitting the odd pang of emotional resonance, this five-day romance (that's all it takes for Brolin's man-on-the run to woo Adele) is comprised of numerous strained scenes that demand that Frank wrap his arms around 'his woman' - a quivering volcano of suppressed desire. Perhaps the worst example of this forged intimacy is an impromptu scene of pie-baking. "Let's put a roof on this house," Frank suggests whilst adding the unpalatable pastry lid to their crudely-forged peach cobbler. Far more engaging when seen through the observant and curious gaze of its young protagonist, Labor Day's use of ellipsis - found primarily in the film's unintelligible flashbacks - make deciphering the morally questionable back story highly problematic, not to mention almost entirely rewardless.
Reitman's listless stroll down memory lane feels ripped straight out of a faded photo album, making the endless contrived dialogue appear even more synthetic and forced - built on tender recollections instead of firm details or palpable emotion. Like an eighties Bonnie and Clyde - if the king and queen of New Hollywood had decided to bake, do odd chores and learn salsa together rather than rob banks - Labor Day is a picturesque but ultimately mind-numbing slice of American pie. It's a genuine shame that its sickly filling of personal tragedy and emotional dependency has been made so sickeningly sweet due to Reitman's own gratuitous flourishes.
This review was originally published on 15 October 2013 as part of our extensive London Film Festival coverage.