Beautifully crafted but misses its mark

Kate Winslet as Adele, Josh Brolin as Frank and Gattlin Griffith as Henry in 'Labor Day'.
Kate Winslet as Adele, Josh Brolin as Frank and Gattlin Griffith as Henry in 'Labor Day'.

The heat of unexpected passion scorches two lost souls in Jason Reitman’s handsome adaptation of the novel by Joyce Maynard.

Embellished with a present-day voiceover that harks back to events of one sweltering summer in 1987, ‘Labor Day’ woos us with stirring performances, sun-dappled cinematography and an elegiac orchestral score.

Scenes between Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin as the doomed lovers simmer with eroticism, including a glorious set-piece with a homemade peach pie that makes our pulses quicken and mouths water.

Fifteen-year-old rising star Gattlin Griffith is equally compelling as the painfully shy teenage son, who witnesses this mending of broken hearts in impossible circumstances.

Yet for all of its impressive qualities - and they are bountiful - ‘Labor Day’ isn’t quite the sum of its parts. The condensed timeframe of the central romance strains credibility and some of the subplots feel undernourished. Reitman’s mosaic of flashbacks create a fractured chronology that hampers dramatic momentum, dissipating the sense of dread and longing that should permeate every impeccably crafted frame.