Review: 'Let Him Go' (2020) Dir. Thomas Bezucha
Based on the novel by Larry Watson, this immersive and emotive neo-Western that explores what family means and the lengths one will go to in order to keep it...
After the death of their son from a horse riding accident, former sheriff George Blackledge (Costner) and wife Margaret (Lane) support former daughter-in-law Lorna (Carter) and their young grandson Jimmy.
Years later, Lorna's new husband Donnie Weboy (Brittain) is evidently abusive towards the pair, and Margaret witnesses his abhorrent acts. She is too late to intervene after Donnie moves Lorna and Jimmy away to his family in North Dakota.
Margaret convinces George that they have a right to seek out Donnie and fight to bring Jimmy to their home to keep him safe, but the Weboy family prove to be more than a match for the Blackledge family in their less-than-cooperative way of raising Jimmy...
The 1963 period just fits this drama perfectly - the music, the small town sets, the costumes and classic cars. The period removes everything that could easily detract from a very simple and emotional story; no technology, no easy way of communication or travel. It's all about the power of family, of making long, tiring journeys, of using your heart and head to get what you need and convey your true feelings and morals.
Kevin Costner and Diane Lane evoke the perfect all-American loving couple living and working on a country horse ranch (united again after 2013s 'Man Of Steel') whose world is torn apart by the tragic death of their son. It doesn't get much easier for the grieving parents when their daughter-in-law Kayli Carter later marries the abusive Will Brittain, and their only grandson is taken to a new home many miles away. So begins a story of grandparents out to try and do what is best for their daughter-in-law and grandson and bring them home. It just doesn't happen as easy as expected.
So begins a story of honest grandparents out to try and do what is best for their daughter-in-law and grandson. It just doesn't happen as easily as expected.
While this is a story about a couple seeking to do what they feel is right for their family and protect them from the volatile family they have married into, this also explores the couple themselves. Costner and Lane are a solid pair; they convey all sorts of emotions in their journey to save their remaining family from pain, whilst battling a pain of their own. We get to see how they work together, and what little chinks in their armour try to come between them, but how their love and support pulls through.
Costner never fails to disappoint in a role he slips effortlessly into; a proud husband, father and grandfather with a quiet, burning spark inside him that ignites when fanned and the sort of man you just feel belongs in this era. Lane also works perfectly alongside her screen husband with a real tender beauty that evokes her role as wife, mother and grandmother. She has an equally strong and fierce determination to do what she knows is right, and you can't fail to want them to succeed in their journey.
The one obstacle that stands before them is the dangerous head of the Weboy family, Lesley Manville. With her southern drawl and tight blonde 60s curls, Manville adds a dark shadow to proceedings during the final act. Her Weboy family evoke that kind seen in numerous thrillers and horrors, but without a cinematic excess. The Weboys equally value family as much as the Blackledges, but with very different and dark ways of proving it, and Manville is the one pulling the strings to their twisted ways.
Thomas Bezucha's direction bleeds across the drama genre from emotive to powerful, wasting no time in using the few characters to tell an engrossing story that slowly unwinds into a unnerving and helpless situation. Yet thankfully this doesn't turn into a tongue-in-cheek horror pastiche and retains both feet on the ground in it's exploration of what could have been lurking out there in rural towns and villages across America in the 1960s. And all of this bubbles up to a nail-biting final sequence.
Gorgeous natural cinematography by Guy Godfree lends to the neo-Western look of this story across dusty outback plains and barns, accompanied by an evocative, chilling and well used score by the award winning Michael Giacchino. Add to this a stellar supporting cast including Jeffrey Donovan and Booboo Stewart, and you have a well produced, well acted and tightly told story.
A gorgeous looking film and emotive story brought to life by an award winning cast and crew at the top of their game.
'Let Him Go' is a Mazur Kaplan Company production.