A Brief History
On November 5, 2020, we screened an advance showing of the new motion picture starring Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, Let Him Go, a film set to open the next day. (Release was delayed from August 2020 to November 6, 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic.) Set in the late 1950’s in the remote areas of Montana and North Dakota, the movie takes us to dark places of life altering events and decisions. Neither eye candy nor uplifting, the film is drama with a hint of horror. If you have read our previous movie reviews, you will be aware that we do not provide spoilers, although in this case, we can give you a hint, There Will Be Blood! (People will get hurt and killed.)
The premise of the story is based on a novel (2013) by the same name by Larry Watson. The novel is set in 1951, but if I am not mistaken some of the cars in the film are from later dates than that. Costner plays a retired lawman with his wife, Diane Lane, living in Montana with an adult married son who in turn has a baby boy. Costner’s son dies in an accident leaving his wife a widow, who remarries a seemingly wholesome young country boy. The problems start when the grandparents (Costner and Lane) decide their grandson is living under dubious circumstances with some borderline nutty extended family in North Dakota, a family right out of the horror movie genre without the extreme or far fetched aspect found in a true horror film. (They are not mutants or chainsaw killers, though they are somewhat country peculiar.) The plot thickens as the 2 families have confrontations over the custody of the now 3 year old boy, confrontations with deadly consequences.
The 38 year old director, Thomas Bezucha, has already written and directed several films as well as co-written a few more, so his professionalism is evident in putting an entirely believable acting performance on film. Costner, one of our favorite actors, is particularly believable as a retired lawman (which this author is, too!), and the matriarch of the Weboy family (the villains) played by Lesley Manville is a character you will love to hate. In fact, we think she should be considered for Best Supporting Actress. Other casting is also spot on, as are performances. Running time is 114 minutes, but the first half of the movie seems longer as it takes time to develop. Toward the end, things start moving faster and you get the action we crave. There are some “ewww…” moments and some major tension developing if the audience member is at all empathetic to the Costner/Lane grandparents characters.
We have seen the movie described as the Weboy family being “off the grid,” but their main house clearly has electricity, as evidenced by the lighting (pathetically dim though it is) and outside electric lines. Which brings us to our main complaint! The movie is frequently set at night, and is therefore kind of dark, making details hard to make out. This cinematic technique seems to be infecting television and movies to the point where it irritates us. Dinner with the Weboys, for example, is unrealistically dimly lit, or so we believe.
We will not spoil the ending for you, so if you want to know how things turn out, go to the theater or pick up the film on whatever streaming service has it available when you read this review. Overall, we liked the movie and found it to be quite well made. Pre-teens should watch the film only with parents capable of explaining violence and family strife.
Question for students (and subscribers): Is revenge a legitimate response to being wronged? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Kieth, Todd. Kevin Costner. Ikon Books, 1991.
Watson, Larry. Let Him Go: A Novel. Milkweed Editions, 2013.
The featured image in this article is an official poster for Let Him Go. The copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher or the creator of the work depicted. It is believed that the use of scaled-down, low-resolution images of posters to provide critical commentary on the film in question, not solely for illustration, on a site hosted on servers in the United States, qualifies as fair use under the copyright law of the United States.