Let Him Go

  • 28 Nov - 04 Dec, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

A heartfelt, handsomely made but unconvincing tonal mash-up, Thomas Bezucha's Let Him Go begins as a family drama embodying the no-nonsense smarts of its early-'60s heartland setting before veering into wild Gothic menace and ill-advised vigilantism. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner, perfectly cast as the parents of a son whose death leaves a vulnerable wife and infant behind.

George and Margaret Blackledge live on a Montana ranch, where he's a retired lawman and she breaks horses – or did, until the couple's grown son was thrown by one and died instantly.

About three years later, the Blackledges watch as their son's widow Lorna (Kayli Carter) marries Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain) in a Town Hall ceremony whose chilliness seems apt. They love their grandson Jimmy, but seem never to have truly bonded with Lorna, and have no cause for faith in the man who'll now be caring for her. We're not very surprised when Margaret accidentally witnesses Donnie hitting both Lorna and the child on the street one day. Before she can decide how to address the situation, though, the newlyweds have moved out of town with no forwarding address.

These are people of few words. Bezucha gracefully communicates what George immediately understands: His wife is going to find their grandson, with his help or without it. Given the provisions she's packed into their station wagon, she's ready for the job to take a while.

We learn that the Weboy clan is a tight-knit crew with a bad reputation. Rescuing Jimmy (and possibly Lorna) from a possessive, abusive husband would have been plenty of drama for this hitherto quiet, sensitive picture. Instead we get a family full of leering thugs, whose depiction sometimes suggests they might have a cousin out in the barn who dresses in other people's flesh. The action doesn't get quite that extreme, but it's bad enough.

George and Margaret first react more or less believably, looking for a peaceful solution. But when that fails, so does the script's commitment to anything like narrative logic. Throw in the help of a young Native American man who lives in the wilderness after escaping from a government re-education school and you get dangerously close to turning the sturdy, sane Blackledges into unlikely action heroes interchangeable with those from a hundred less serious flicks.