Let Him Go Movie Review
Don’t always judge a movie by its title. Despite its utterly forgettable moniker, the new Kevin Costner drama-thriller Let Him Go is a surprisingly effective and engaging piece of filmmaking, even if it comes up just a little short in the end.
Costner and on-screen wife Diane Lane star as grandparents of a cute little boy who go to extraordinary lengths to rescue him after his mother, formerly married to their deceased son, remarries into an unsavory and abusive family.
Way to go, Lorna. Way to go.
A neo-western, at least partially, Let Him Go thrives on strong performances from all involved and its central concept, which presents a unique but not unrealistic dynamic that poses the question, “What would you do in this situation?”
Written and directed by Thomas Bezucha and based on the novel by Larry Watson, Let Him Go takes a slow-boil approach to the material, which might be a surprise given the marketing suggests the film gets to the action quicker and with more intensity. While the movie does offer bursts of violence, it can best be described as an unsettling drama, a picture more concerned with building tension than ripping things wide open.
And build tension Bezucha does. In spades. Bezucha lets the story unfold organically, patiently setting the stage moment by moment, scene by scene. But it’s the pleasantly disturbing (or disturbingly pleasant?) Weeboy family, their menace and influence in the region only hinted at from time to time, that sends shivers through the story. Led by frightening matriarch Lesley Manville, with seemingly polite but clearly troubled Jeffrey Donovan, the Weeboy clan is a sinister bunch. Let Him Go ratchets up to another level anytime one of them is on screen.
Neither Costner nor Lane should be overlooked, however. The two have incredible chemistry with one another, which makes their pairing and presence all the more believable. Neither are likely heroes, but their determination, often in conflict with one another, makes for compelling drama even when the dialogue is sometimes a little too on the nose.
The movie’s only real issue is that Bezucha takes a little too long getting to the “good stuff.” The film’s patient storytelling is a little too patient; it would have been great for the movie to get to the action earlier and draw out the climax accordingly. Bezucha occasionally short shrifts the story’s momentum, giving Costner and Lane a few too many pensive moments. The inclusion of a young Indian outcast (Booboo Stewart) poses opportunity but in hindsight it’s unclear what his purpose was.
Let Him Go isn’t a perfect drama, but some really good performances by Costner, Lane, Manville, and Donovan paired with increasingly unsettling material make this a story worth experiencing. That’s as long as you don’t forget the title as soon as you see it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.