Oh, so now Labor Day is being marketed as a romance? OK.

I mean, Jason Reitman’s latest film, adapted from a novel by Joyce Maynard, could be described as a tragic romance of sorts, staged between an escaped convict (Josh Brolin) and the dysfunctional mother (Kate Winslet) he kidnaps and detains -- gently detains! – for a long weekend. It’s not, really, but that’s not the fault of this TV spot, shared via Yahoo Movies. Labor Day aspires to be about so much more than that. It’s just very difficult to sum up the layers of this story in a minute-long spot. The heavy-handed use of voiceover narration doesn’t help.

What Labor Day has in its corner is an awards-worthy cast digging into a complicated screenplay about loss, regret, loneliness, fear, and the hope that comes with the promise of a new life, of a chance to start over. The premise to Reitman’s movie struck me as forced: Brolin’s character escapes from a nearby prison, and forces Winslet and her son (Gattlin Griffith) to house him until he can plan an escape. He’s injured, and the local police force is hunting him. But the convict isn’t what he seems, and after a few baked pies (seriously), the characters begin to build a bond that Johnny Law won’t be able to break.

Labor Day almost became a 2013 Oscar contender. That likely was Paramount’s hope when it brought Reitman’s movie to the Toronto International Film Festival (which is where we saw the movie, and reviewed it). The movie could have been a contender. As I stated in the review, it’s the kind of film that you could nitpick to death on the details, because it’s more concerned with big, emotional moods than it is with streamlined facts and figures. If you get swept up in the emotional journey of the characters, you’ll tend to overlook some of the nagging elements that don’t necessarily work.

But a crowded Oscar field that already included Paramount’s Wolf of Wall Street and Nebraska means Labor Day got bumped to what I view as an unfavorable release date: January 31. Yuck.

Still, Reitman has a strong following, thank to his previous hit films Juno, Thank You for Smoking, Up in the Air and the underrated Young Adult. His previous success with Oscar means audience members likely will just assume Labor Day is an awards-worthy film. And it also could serve as counterprogramming for mature audience members who have no interest in rival January releases like The Legend of Hercules, The Nut Job or That Awkward Moment. Here’s the latest Labor Day trailer. Are you interested?

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