Let Him Go
Underneath the heartfelt tenderness of Thomas Bezucha’s adaptation of Let Him Go, there is a gripping tension that simmers until it simply cannot be contained any longer. The result is an engaging and surprisingly effective conclusion that’s well-earned thanks to powerhouse performances from Kevin Costner and Diana Lane, who give their roles every ounce of talent they have.
Based on the novel of the same name by Larry Watson, the film takes viewers to rural Montana circa the 1950s. Here loving grandparents George (Costner), a retired sheriff, and Margaret (Lane) are looking after their infant grandchild alongside their son James (Ryan Bruce) and his wife Lorna (Kayli Carter). When James is killed after being thrown from his horse, their idyllic, quiet life is cast into turmoil. Three years later, the widow marries the striking-looking Donnie (Will Brittain), who Margaret observes physically harming his new family through her car window. Later, she discovers that the new husband has taken her daughter-in-law and the toddler to live with his relatives in North Dakota. Worried about their grandson’s safety, the couple takes it upon themselves to track him down and bring him home.
Up until this point, the audience is given the impression that what will follow will be another overly sappy story about grief and love as the pair embarks on their road trip. This assumption is quickly erased, however, when onlookers become acquainted with the rest of Donnie’s relations. Led by a gleefully menacing performance by Lesley Manville as the venomous matriarch of the Weboy clan, the icy and confrontational presence of these characters instantly turns the grandparents’ journey into something far more sinister. As if the less than subtle undertones of domestic abuse weren’t enough to let viewers know that these people are bad news, each time they appear on screen observers are reminded just how malevolent they are. By the time the script reaches its climax, the genre has evolved from a family drama into a full-blown vengeance thriller akin to Blue Ruin.
Though a somewhat overbearing score robs both the tender and tense moments of their subtlety, Costner and Lane’s magnificent performances are all that is needed for these scenes to work. In other hands, the movie could’ve been an enjoyably pulpy genre piece, but the previously mentioned actors give Let Him Go a real sense of weight, subsequently elevating it to something far greater and more nuanced.
Let Him Go is released in cinemas on 18th December 2020.
Watch the trailer for Let Him Go here: