Don’t always judge a movie by its title. Despite its utterly memorable nickname, Kevin Costner’s new drama-thriller is let him go is a surprisingly effective and engaging piece of filmmaking, even if it comes off a little short in the end.
Costner and his wife, Diane Lane, play the lead role of a cute little boy who goes out of his way to save him after his mother, formerly married to her late son, remarries into an unsavory and abusive family.
Well done, Lorna. Well done.
A neo-western, at least in part, let him go lives from the strong performance of everyone involved and its central concept, which represents a unique but not unrealistic dynamic that raises 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 deals slowly with the material, which might be a surprise given the marketing that suggests the movie is getting into the action faster and more intense. While the film features outbursts of violence, it can best be described as disturbing drama, an image that is more about building tension than tearing things wide open.
And build tension, which Bezucha does. In spades. Bezucha lets the story unfold organically and patiently sets the stage from moment to moment, scene to scene. But it’s the pleasantly disturbing (or annoyingly pleasant?) Weeboy family, whose threat and influence in the region is only hinted at from time to time, that sends shivers through history. Led by the terrifying matriarch Lesley Manville with the seemingly polite but clearly troubled Jeffrey Donovan, the Weeboy clan is a sinister bunch. let him go Ratchet up to another level when one of them is on the screen.
Neither Costner nor Lane should be overlooked, however. The two have incredible chemistry with each other, which makes their pairing and presence all the more believable. Both of them are likely not heroes, but their determination, often at odds with one another, makes for compelling drama, even if the dialogue is a little too on the face at times.
The only real problem with the film is that it takes Bezucha a little too long to get to the “good stuff”. The film’s patient storytelling is a little too patient. It would have been great if the movie got into the action earlier and carved out the climax accordingly. Bezucha occasionally briefly cuts the dynamics of the story and gives Costner and Lane a few too many reflective moments. The inclusion of a young Indian outcast (Booboo Stewart) offers an opportunity, but with hindsight it is unclear what its purpose was.
let him go is not a perfect drama, but some really good performances from Costner, Lane, Manville, and Donovan, coupled with increasingly disturbing material, make this story a story to live with. As long as you remember the title as soon as you see it.
Rating by Erik Samdahl, unless otherwise stated.