Review: 'Let Him Go'
It’s such a joy to watch talented, veteran actors continue to add standout performances to their lifelong body of impressive work.
Such is the case with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane in Thomas Bezucha’s new dramatic thriller Let Him Go.
Both have an impressive list of credits. Pairing them up is a stroke of casting genius.
It’s been done before. They played Clark Kent’s earthly parents in Man of Steel (2013) and again in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
They looked the part, but were restricted to playing pretty stock supporting characters in a comic book world.
Let Him Go, offers then an opportunity to really dig deep into real life characters in a nitty-gritty reality that we can all relate to.
It affords them an opportunity to really show the depth and subtlety of their immense talent. Watching them is worth the price of admission.
Costner plays George Blackledge, a retired lawman living on a small horse ranch in Montana sixty years ago.
Lane plays Margaret, his staunch, salt-of-the earth wife who once rode and broke horses.
Together, they live a simple life with their only son, his wife and their young grandson.
As sometimes happens, tragedy strikes one day, their son is lost and their lives are changed forever.
A few years later, the daughter- in- law marries another man. George and Margaret do their best to accept the emotional loss of their beloved grandson when the young couple moves to a small apartment in town.
But then Margaret happens to witness a scene of anger and mistreatment when she is driving her truck in town one day. It’s dark and disturbing.
Things become more disturbing and unsettling when the couple suddenly leaves town with the child unannounced, to move back with the new husband's family in North Dakota.
Margaret fears for the safety of the little boy and his mother, enough that she sets out to find them. If her worst fears about the abusive new husband are confirmed, she is prepared to offer to bring the grandson home to protect him and raise him.
And so a journey begins.
One that takes them far from home into a world of violence and fear.
Let Him Go is a well-crafted movie that is careful to keep things real for the most part. It unfolds in an unhurried fashion.
It provides richness and detail that defines characters and convincingly establishes their predicament. It is raw and direct without pretense or unnecessary fluff.
The treacherous journey to find a missing child is certainly not new in the movies.
John Ford’s The Searchers (1956) is perhaps the classic. But it’s a John Wayne movie with all the trademark elements of a John Ford/John Wayne movie. It’s all bigger than life, like so many Hollywood movies from the past.
What’s lacking in movies like that, and what is evident here throughout is subtlety.
Everything here feels stripped down and simplified. The story is pretty straightforward. The emotions are real.
Costner’s aging retired lawman isn’t the movie hero that springs back into action with fistfights and gunplay. He’s past his prime.
Though he’s a man of principle, he’s a man who must acknowledge his limitations.
His strength is his character. He’s a modern day Gary Cooper. A man of resolve. A man of few words.
Diane Lane’s Margaret is also a character with unshakable conviction and a clarity of purpose.
She is a force to be reckoned with; a simple woman with a keen sense of justice and humanity.
Their nemesis is the mother of their new son-in-law, Blanche Weboy, played to perfection by Lesley Manville.
She is a powerful, frightening matriarch; a deranged control freak of a mom who will not let anyone or anything disrupt her tightly managed world.
Her performance is brilliant.
One other supporting role worth mentioning is that of Booboo Stewart who plays a lonely outcast Native American living off the grid in the barren plains.
Let Him Go has a lot going for it-- a superb script, a great cast, and a director with a real handle on the material. And of course, all the technical aspects that make a really good movie good.
While it may stray into a level of violence in the final reel that may seem out of place for a movie that manages to keep a lid on the escalating pressure throughout, even that is plausible and believable.
It’s a movie about pain and loss and suffering.
It’s a movie about love and duty and self-sacrifice. It’s a carefully constructed movie that is solidly entertaining.
When they hand out the Oscars next year, they need to set a few aside for Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Leslie Manville and Thomas Bezucha.
'Let Him Go' opens in theaters November 6.