“A retired sheriff and his wife, grieving over the death of their son, set out to find their only grandson.”

Director: Thomas Bezucha
Writers: Thomas Bezucha, Larry Watson
Staring: Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Kayli Carter, Ryan Bruce, Lesley Manville
Where To Watch: HBO Max
Release Date: November 6, 2020

Don’t go into Let Him Go expecting anything. That is my advice to you.

Set in Montana in the early 1960s, George Blackledge (Kevin Costner) his wife Margaret (Diane Lane) are living on a farm with their son James (Ryan Bruce), his wife Lorna (Kayli Carter), and their young grandson, Jimmy. It is a classic ranch lifestyle for the family with little to no problems, until heartbreak befalls them. James fell off a horse and broke his neck, resulting in a broken family and a broken resolve.

Years later Lorna marries a new man by the name of Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain). It is obvious to everyone that Lorna is agreeing to this marriage for her own safety and for the betterment of her grandson, however those reasons are soon invalidated. Margaret sees Donnie hit Lorna and Jimmy while out in public. Based off the reaction of Lorna, it is easy to infer that this abuse is not isolated.

George and Margaret go on a quest to rescue their daughter-in-law and their only grandson. While traveling to try and reconnect with their long lost family, George and Margaret meet a young Native American by the name of Dragswolf (Booboo Stewart). After a night with their new acquaintance, the pair travel to a local town and begin questioning townsfolk about the Weboy family. The knowledge the couple learn is not soothing. The Weboy’s are a family that is not to be messed with, and they are not afraid to intimidate.

George and Margaret have an initial meeting with the Weboy family and are introduced to the head of the manic household, Blanche (Lesley Manville). The true colors of the family and the parenting style of the Weboys and Blanche makes the Blackledge’s want to take action. George and Margaret meet Lorna during one of her rushed lunch breaks and attempt to convince her to leave with them. The plea falls on deaf ears and the Blackledge’s become official enemies of the Weboy family. It is a not place you want to be.

The final act of Let Him Go pins George and Margaret against Blanche and her sons. Lorna is trapped within their home and Jimmy is being suffocated (metaphorically) without even knowing it. Working through venomous words and physical threats, George and Margaret attempt to try and ensure the safety of Lorna and Jimmy at any cost.

Let Him Go goes down a path of realism that isn’t expected. When the shit hits the fan, you’ll know it. It’ll feel like you’re a tree trunk that just got thwacked with an axe. Let Him Go allows Kevin Costner and Diane Lane to runway and show their acting chops. A strong story acts like a nucleus and steady hands on camera creates a propulsion that helps the two stars dig deep into their back of tricks.

Costner has been diving deep into the Western genre for the past couple years, and Let Him Go is another notch in that belt. He has been Yellowstone since 2018 and took part in Netflix’s The Highwaymen (2019). Costner in Let Him Go is a quiet and sully former sheriff. A man who knows how to handle tough situations is placed in some he never anticipated. He is loyal and would do anything for Margaret, which both shows his vigor and his one weakness.

Diane Lane is what makes Let Him Go motor. While George is the physical strength and prowess, nothing happens without the mental determination of Margaret. The last movies I had seen her in were the Justice League (2017), Zach Snyder’s Justice League (2021) and the god awful Serenity (2019). Here in Let Him Go, her character has layers of fortified strength and resolve. She has been hardened before and she is not going to have her conviction squished.

The relationship that George and Margaret have is subtle. It really is like a couple that has been together for a long time and know each other well enough to not ask the questions they already know the answers too. it is an understanding love. It is no coincidence that two actors who are both older in age and have experience with life and probably hardship were able to take these roles and make them shine.

Let Him Go was only the fourth directing effort and fifth writing credit for Thomas Bezucha. He was a producer on this project so he did put himself more on the line to get this movie made. Speaking personally, I have not seen any of the other movies directed by Bezucha, but for those curious, his highest rated is his directing debut, big Eden (2000).

Let Him Go went by like a flash in the pan on HBO Max, but it deserves more attention. It is a movie that rewards the relationship you put into it and will have you rooting for a family reunion against all odds. It is far more grounded in reality than you would expect, and the pain is punchier than a typical western story.

STANKO RATING: B+ (4.0/5 Stars)

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