Family and the powerful connection a woman feels for her son and grandson is at the core of the dramatic film, Let Him Go. Oscar-winner Diane Lane and two-time Oscar-winner Kevin Costner, who previously co-starred as Superman’s adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, reunite to play Margaret and George Blackledge, a married couple in their senior years who live on a quiet Montana ranch in the early 1960s.
The film opens with the shocking death of their son after being thrown by a horse. Jump ahead three years and their daughter-in-law Lorna (Kayli Carter) is getting married to a young man named Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain) at what feels to be more of a somber event than joyful.
Margaret desperately misses helping raise her grandson, Jimmy, which helped fill the void of losing her son. One day while shopping in town Margaret sees Lorna out with Donnie and her son and witnesses Donnie angrily slap them both. The next day Margaret visits Lorna to check in only to find that she, Donnie, and the boy have left in a hurry and are headed for North Dakota. Desperate to get her grandson back and fearing what Donnie might do to him and Lorna, Margaret convinces her husband they need to drive to North Dakota to find Lorna and convince her to come back to Montana with Jimmy.
En route to North Dakota, Margaret and George hear through the grapevine that Donnie moved back home to be with his mother, Blanche (Lesley Manville), and his brothers who have a dangerous reputation in the area.
Written and directed by Thomas Bezucha (Big Eden, The Family Stone), Let Him Go is a slowly paced, neo-western dramatic thriller elevated by the performances of the cast. Diane Lane delivers a memorable performance as Margaret, a woman who’s determined to get her grandson back no matter what the cost. Lane shows the strength, bullheadedness, and at times the naivety of the character who doesn’t fully realize just how dangerous the Weboy family clan is until it’s too late.
Kevin Costner delivers a stoic and subdued performance as George, a true family man and former sheriff who at first wants to give his wife the opportunity to say goodbye to her grandson and then becomes just as determined to save him from a horrible and deadly situation. It’s the wonderful chemistry between Costner and Lane as a seasoned couple who know each other inside and out that’s the best element of Let Him Go.
Lesley Manville is pitch-perfect in her portrayal of Blanche Weboy, the matriarch of the family. Manville’s Blanche is reminiscent of Ma Barker in style and manner, and Manville’s a commanding presence in every scene she’s in. It’s a truly powerful performance.
However, one big problem with the film is its soundtrack. There are scenes where the wistful and upbeat music seems to try to give the illusion or feel of a pleasant road trip while the behavior and attitude of the main characters are that of determination and concern for their rescue mission. It’s more than just a distraction – it’s completely inappropriate.
Another issue with the film is the pacing, which at times becomes painfully slow. This is most evident during the overly long and drawn out drive from Montana to North Dakota and the overuse of flashbacks to George and Margaret’s life together.
Still, with stellar performances and a solid rescue story at its core, Let Him Go is a film worth catching.
MPAA Rating: R for violence
Running Time: 1 hour 54 minutes
Release Date: November 6, 2020