'Labor Day' movie a tender ode to imperfect people... and pie

I tend to expect the worst yet hope for the best when it comes to movies based on novels I loved written by authors whom I've long adored. Such was the case with LABOR DAY, a film directed by Jason Reitman based on the novel of the same name by author Joyce Maynard.

Joyce Maynard on her grandmotherI read Joyce's novel not too long ago. I literally hugged the book to my chest after reading the final page, I loved it so. Because of my love for the book, when I had the opportunity to screen the film — which opened the Starz Denver Film Festival — I feared I'd be disappointed.

Thankfully my fear was unfounded.

The LABOR DAY movie mirrored the "Labor Day" book in a manner that satisfied my soul. I left the theater happy rather than disgruntled, as I usually am when a beloved book becomes a mangled movie version of its former self.

Labor Day movie screen shot(Left to right)  Kate Winslet as Adele, Josh Brolin as Frank and Gattlin Griffith as Henry in LABOR DAY directed by Jason Reitman to be released by Paramount Pictures and Indian Paintbrush.

LABOR DAY tells the tale of a holiday weekend that transformed the lives of Henry Wheeler (Gattlin Griffith) and his emotionally fragile and reclusive mother, Adele (Kate Winslet). Their lives are turned upside down, their hearts turned inside out when escaped prisoner Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin) demands they shelter him until he can get out of town safely and unseen by the police aggressively on his tail.

The chemistry between all of the characters — Brolin and Winslet, Griffith and Winslet, Griffith and Brolin — rang tender and genuine. At times the scenes were so personal and touching I felt as if I should look away and give the characters privacy. The movie was a rollercoaster of emotion, from heartache to pleasure to suspense and back again, that kept me entranced and wondering what might come next despite having read the book.

What I loved about LABOR DAY: I found the pie-making scene especially moving. Joyce Maynard has made no secret of her affinity for making pies, so this particular scene — which so closely followed the scene in the book — seemed a heartfelt tribute to the author.

I smiled during the Q&A after the red carpet screening when Joyce mentioned that she taught Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet how to make pies for the scene. "That's my pie," Joyce professed of the lovingly crafted pastry in the movie.

As I love pie, too, the importance of pie to the storyline — and how well the filmmakers stayed true to all things pie from the novel — touched my heart. And gave me tips to incorporate in my Thanksgiving pie making.

LABOR DAY (PG-13) directed by Jason Reitman and starring Josh Brolin, Kate Winslet, Gattlin Griffith and Tobey Maguire opens December 25 in limited theaters and nationwide January 2014.

Starz Denver Film Festival



On her grandmother and creativity:

Joyce Maynard at Starz Denver Film FestivalI only knew one of my grandmothers. Her name was Rona Bruser, and she had emigrated to Canada with her family to Russia as a little girl, escaping the pogroms, with only the clothes on their backs. My grandmother expressed her creative spirit — as women did in those days — with her cooking and baking and her embroidery and sewing, and by figuring out how to feed her family during the depression, with no money.

On what her grandmother might think of LABOR DAY?

The Yiddish word (and I might have the spelling wrong, but not the pronunciation) is nachas (na-has). The means, the pride a parent feels for a child. Multiply by a thousand if that parent (or grandparent) is Jewish.

Wait, there's more...

Would she recommend reading her novel "Labor Day"?



If one enjoys reading "Labor Day" and feels sad upon reaching the last page, what can be done about that?

You are in luck! I have a brand new novel out, called "After Her," and if you like that one, you might try "The Good Daughters" and "The Usual Rules" and "Where Love Goes" and "Baby Love" and "To Die For." I can keep you busy for a long time!

— From an email Q&A with Joyce Maynard