-“My boy doesn’t have to answer to you.”
-“And we don’t have to answer to you.”
Now is the time for westerns, apparently. Gruff movies that show the rough exteriors of those out in the country using their own vigilante justice to find closure to the traumatic events that plague their lives. This is the central theme, as like all westerns, in Thomas Bezucha new film Let Him Go — a film that plays to an unoriginal, simple troupe and rarely anything else.
Let Him Go takes place in the 1960s, and tells the story of Margaret (Diane Lane) and George Blackledge (Kevin Costner), an older couple who live a quiet life on their farm in Montana, as their son James (Ryan Bruce) helps them maintain the farm. Life is good until James breaks his body while riding his horse — leaving a wife and son behind. Flashforward a couple of years, and James’ widow, Lorna (Kayli Carter), is now set to marry a mysterious man named Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain) . A man whose past isn’t all that clear. But the Blackledges attend the wedding and support their former daughter-in-law, and more importantly their grandson. With James being gone, the Blackledges only have their grandson — making sure to see him as often as possible. But something doesn’t quite sit right about this new marriage, especially Donnie’s dark demeanor. Upon finding out that the young family has abruptly left, Margaret alerts George, a former sheriff, and the two set off to track down and get their grandson back. When Margaret and George find the Weboy family, they realize they’ve landed themselves in a terrible situation — under the iron fist of an overbearing, and violent, matriarch.
I never knew that Diane Lane and Kevin Costner were the stereotypical look for the country bumpkin parents. Coming off their recent collaboration in 2013’s, Man of Steel, one may hilariously point out this fact, but I digress… I can joke about their time playing parents on a farm, but all jokes aside, Lane and Costner’s chemistry is great. When an onscreen couple can flow so well together, it brings a whole new level to the overall film. Everything the Blackledges go through, whether it be good or bad, feels that much more real. The chemistry between the two is solid, but the story does nothing to add to that — no revelations or layers to their personality. To put it plainly, they’re incredibly bland characters. It’s the repetitive nature that turns these two into stale beings come the end.
Lane and Costner are the “big names” bringing you to see this film. No doubt, I believe these talented actors have earned that right. But when it comes to the most pivotal scenes, no one steals a scene better than Lesley Manville. Manville knows how to make her presence known in a film. In Paul Thomas Anderson’s, Phantom Thread, Manville nearly overshadows Daniel Day-Lewis as his ruthless sister, Cyril. Manville’s characters are often roses, beautiful women, but with plenty of thorns to prick her opponents, and Blanche is no different. Every scene she’s in puts all surrounding characters as merely a blur onscreen. The way Bezucha directs her entrance, as she slowly comes into the light, drips with a sinister persona. She’s harsh and puts the fear into everyone. But Margaret is on a mission to get her grandson back. From one mamma bear to another, Lane and Manville put the men in their place as the two duke it out over a delicious pork chop dinner. But if I may be honest, I could do without a storyline about the Blackledges. I want a film about Blanche.
The ending sprays into chaos and fiery escalation. It’s almost too chaotic. But what can one expect from a director whose previous projects were The Family Stone and Monte Carlo. Let Him Go marks a huge jump for Bezucha — going from rom-coms to the dark dramatic and violent genre. It’s like if Nora Ephron decided to direct Wind River. But nevertheless, Bezucha does alright for his first time in this genre. There are things Bezucha can surely improve on, but I’d be willing to see his next project or two within this rough environment.
I didn’t have high hopes going into Let Him Go. Nothing stands out to me, and the overdramatic trailer doesn’t do the film any favors, but I found myself to be mildly surprised. The acting is well done, but the script suffers from a storyline that’s been done one too many times. There’s not much to say about Let Him Go. There’s only one standout, however, and that’s Manville. Sadly, when Manville isn’t onscreen, everything else just feels like a bore.
Let Him Go
Directed by: Thomas Bezucha
Starring: Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Jeffrey Donovan, and Lesley Manville