Labor Day

Calling something a melodrama is a sneaky way of excusing its implausibilities on behalf of its juicy performances, which in this case I’m more than willing to do. Adapted from a novel by Joyce Maynard, this romance strains credulity from the outset with its tale of an escaped convict (Josh Brolin) ingratiating himself with a lonely divorcee (Kate Winslet) and her unhappy son (Gattlin Griffith) over a long Labor Day weekend. But even as a bodice-ripping fantasy it’s pretty compelling: Winslet knows how to play hunger, Brolin is handsome and sincere, and writer-director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) shows a none-too-common restraint in never showing the characters in bed. There are some nice character turns as well, from Clark Gregg, J.K. Simmons, James Van Der Beek, and Brooke Smith.