Son of Ghostbusters’ director Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman made a name for himself in 2005 with his directorial feature debut Thank You For Smoking, adapted from the darkly comedic novel of Christopher Buckley. Since then, Reitman has been pushing the envelope on comedy with the quirky, Academy Award-winning Juno, the bittersweet and six-time Oscar-nominated Up in the Air, and the devotedly dark comedy Young Adult, which starred Charlize Theron as an overgrown Mean Girl. But Reitman is leaving comedy behind for his latest release, Labor Day, as you might have gathered from the gritty clip above.

Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet stars as a reclusive single mom named Adele. Based on the Joyce Maynard novel, Labor Day follows an unexpected adventure that rattles her and her son’s life forever. Looking forward to the long Labor Day weekend, Adele and her son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) pick up a hitchhiker called Frank who is wounded and gruff (Josh Brolin). Soon a police search for an escaped convict canvasses the town, but Adele and Henry aren’t quick to give him up as they uncover his incredible story. In the clip above, you can see the three of them brainstorming an escape route for Brolin’s bearded fugitive. Even in this brief scene, you can sense the heat and bond that has built between mother and convict. But will it ultimately prove a help or a detriment to Frank’s survival?

Following its World Premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on August 30th, Labor Day was just screened at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival, where our own Sean O’Connell called it, “a definite step in a more mature direction” for helmer Jason Reitman. Paramount Pictures has picked up the film’s distribution rights for the US, so American audiences will be able to see Reitman’s curious turn to American Gothic drama on Christmas Day of this year, when the film opens in limited release.

News of this project first surfaced in the fall of 2011, when Winslet and Brolin signed on to co-star. By the spring of 2012, James Van Der Beek was in talks to play one of the cops caught up in the manhunt for Brolin’s mysterious criminal. At the same time, young Griffith was rumored for the role of Henry. Though only fourteen, he’s already accrued a number of notable titles on his résumé, having appeared opposite Angelina Jolie in the Clint Eastwood-directed drama Changeling, popping up in the ensemble comedy Couples Retreat, and playing the Young Hal in the Ryan Reynolds vehicle Green Lantern.

Days later, The AvengersClark Gregg joined the cast, though his role in the film went unannounced. Tobey Maguire came on board to play Henry Wheeler all grown up, and by June of 2012 the cast was being rounded out by God Bless America’s Alexie Gilmore, Moonrise Kingdom’s Lucas Hedges, and newcomer Micah Fowler. Gilmore was set to portray Henry’s step-mother (so perhaps Clark Gregg’s unnamed role is that of Henry’s father?) Hedges plays her son Richard, and Fowler took the role of Barry, the son of one of Adele’s friends. By June 14th of 2012, production on Labor Day had begun. Now, Labor Day and its promising cast are gaining buzz as the film heads toward its release in the thick of award season. Catch it in theaters for yourself on December 25.

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