I know what you’re thinking and, no, this is not the western version of Frozen, even though many of its beautiful landscapes do look quite cold. There is no catchy pop song sung in the new film, Let Him Go, just mucho maternal mayhem from Montana to North Dakota.
Based on the novel by North Dakota native Larry Watson, Let Him Go is set in the ’50s-’60s and tells the story of good grandparents losing their adult son in an accident, and then losing their grandson and daughter-in-law (Kayli Carter) to her abusive new husband and his wackadoodle, backwoods family.
Diane Lane and Kevin Costner (the former Ma & Pa Kent from Man of Steel) play the grandparents, George and Margaret Blackledge. They both deliver great performances and Kostner is extra Costner-y as a former Montana Sheriff, reluctantly taking his gun out of retirement one last time, for the sake of his grandson.
Even though Costner is tough, it is Lane who steals the show as the strong-willed matriarch who is going to get her grandson back, whether her husband comes along or not. Pa Blackledge loves her for her determination, but is not keen on being dragged into a situation he knows will not end well.
On their journey to the badlands of North Dakota, the Blackledges meet and befriend a Native American man, Peter Dragswolf (Booboo Stewart), who fears for them and their mission. He’s an interesting character, though not fleshed out as well as he should have been.
We don’t really get enough insight into the redneck-y “Weboy” family to really understand why they are the way they are. I guess the director and screenwriter, Thomas Bezucha, just assumed we’ve seen Deliverance and we know this stereotype. Nevertheless, Ma Weboy (Lesley Manville) does a good job playing the evil step-grandmother.
Let Him Go review:
Besides the great performances, the biggest star of this film might be the beautiful countryside captured by the director of photography, Guy Godfree; and for old-car fanatics, there is a multitude of fifties and sixties model cars to ogle over in this movie.
Even though this film is set 60 -70 years ago, its closest relative is probably John Wayne’s and John Ford’s The Searchers (1956) which was set in the 1860s, wherein Wayne’s niece is captured by Indians and he embarks on an epic journey to rescue her.
The centerpiece of this film is definitely the complex relationship between George and Margaret and it delivers perfectly on those notes. This may not be the lighthearted film we could all use about right now, but it is a mostly well made movie with great scenery and excellent performances.