Published Nov 02, 2020Let Him Go, written and directed by Thomas Bezucha, is not the movie its trailer presents. It's much more of a family drama than a thriller, focusing on both the grief of George (Kevin Costner) and Margaret Blackledge (Diane Lane) as well as their straying and strengthening of their marital bonds. The former comes from the accidental death of their son, while the latter is tested when Margaret and a reluctant George set out to retrieve their grandson and daughter-in-law from her new husband's sinister family, the Weboys.
Costner and Lane fare better here than when they were Superman's adopted parents in the DC Comics films. This time, in 1950s Montana, their fictional partnership is helped by their real-life decades of experience and previous work together.
Their marriage and life together is interesting as much for what is explained as what is left ambiguous. It's unfortunate, then, that the screenplay can't resist the occasional cartoonish exposition, to the point that some scenes come off as parodies of Costner's stoic period farmer character — the apex of which is him elaborating on his "bible-thumping" father with a curt, "Wasn't just Bibles he thumped."
Lane is a force as a woman determined to rescue her grandson, and whose motherly instincts contrast sharply with Blanche Weboy (Lesley Manville), the rival matriarch who leaves every inch of scenery chewed and yet could have used a bigger meal.
While the acting is reliable, the pacing leaves a lot to be desired. The movie doesn't call for a John Wick-style bloodbath, but it certainly doesn't benefit from dragging out the tension to its thinnest point, multiple instances of which seem to exist for tension's sake. Eventually this isn't the case, and while the point of no return is certainly memorable, it's hindered by seemingly endless prior foreboding. This also isn't helped by Michael Giacchino's score, which is blaringly unsubtle, or that the audience never learns exactly what kind of villainy the Weboy family are involved in or why they have such a hold over the town.
Let Him Go is well-anchored by its two leads, with a compelling plot and a strong heart, but its overlong middle act often threatens to turn that tension into boredom. This is made all the worse by the fact that audiences will more than likely see the poster before viewing, which itself should probably come with a spoiler warning. (Focus)