TORONTO -- There is something special about seeing director Jason Reitman’s movies at the Toronto International Film Festival. I’ve had the chance twice.
Born in Montreal, he’s a native son of the fest as much as Canada, his family, via father Ivan, putting their hearts and funds behind it. Whether big or small, the audiences are so ready to embrace Reitman that it takes the energy in the room up a notch or two.
I loved being in that first gala audience in 2009 watching his incredible relationship flyover film “Up in the Air," watching George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, all growing weary of the road they were on.
This week, it was an early morning screening, tiny theater, maybe 15 of us watching the off-kilter sweet romancing in “Labor Day," starring Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and young Gattlin Griffith. Somehow the setting -- intimate, quiet, coffee in hand -- was perfect for this very intimate story.
But what I really love about Reitman is not where I see his work, but what I see in his work: people -- real ones, relatable one, played by just the right actor in just the right way. I'm never left wondering why so-and-so was cast: The so-and-so is just the right fit.
The characters who populate Reitman's films are broken, but only slightly. Perhaps because they are closer to what we know, they are far more interesting to watch. The situations help. In the worlds created by the writer/director, the lines between good and bad, right and wrong, are not so clear cut. It makes his films thoughtful entertainment -- great to watch, great to think about later.
“Labor Day,” with its take on the way events during the holiday weekend go from dark to light and change a fractured family along the way, is right up there with his best.
Though, honestly, when I look at what he’s done -- “Juno,” “Young Adult,” “Thank You for Smoking” among my favorites -- it’s a full plate of good.
And now that I think of it, I did love sampling it in Canada first.
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