Let Him Go
Stars: Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Leslie Manville, Jeffrey Donovan, Will Brittain, Kayli Carter and Booboo Stewart
Director: Thomas Bezucha
Scriptwriter: Thomas Bezucha based on the novel “Let Him Go” by Larry Watson
Composer: Michael Giacchino
Cinematography: Guy Godfree
Mazur Kaplan Company/ Focus Features
Rating: R for violence and themed material
Running Length: 115 Minutes
The scenery will always be there. Rolling hills, grasslands, gray skies then sunshine, horses in a pasture. You have this to fall back on during “Let Him Go,” when the storyline slowly spirals downward away from the pleasantries of 1950’s life on the High Plains of the U.S. and into the morass of back country family living. Kevin Costner (television’s “Yellowstone”) and Diane Lane ("Phantom Thread") star as a married couple with one son and when tragedy strikes, how to deal with it. The pleasant sunrises and sunsets take on a different hue now, as life takes a right angle turn and the word “family” has new meaning. They meet the Weboy’s of North Dakota. Why the name “Weboy” for a villain, I don’t know, because they are not wee, but larger-than-life villains, so now we proceed into the story. Larry Watson wrote quite a book.
The story is told partly through imagery and the cinematography of the land by Guy Godfree is wonderful and reminiscent of “Sicario.” George (Costner) is a retired sheriff and Margaret (Lane), his wife. They have one son who is married and now has a son, their grandson. Right away, there is tragedy and when you see the lone horse, you can figure what happened. A few years later, the daughter-in-law, Lorna (Kayli Carter) suddenly remarries and it is to Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain) who almost immediately takes his new-wife and step-child to live with his family in the Dakota’s. This is after Margaret witnesses Donnie hitting the child and his new wife, in public. Margaret’s mindset goes on major alert and she drags George on a road trip to find the Weboy’s. They find them all right, and the group is ruled by Blanche (Leslie Manville who acts to the nth degree) and her boys. There is the dinner from Hades, and violence as the Weboy’s dig their heels in as to letting go their new prize, a child. While, Margaret, and especially Margaret, (as George is behind her, not in front) will not allow this creature to have her grandchild, the last remembrance of her only son. As though to take your mind off the family problems here, there is another character, a Native American named Peter (played by Peter Dragswolf) who is friendly to Margaret and George and has his own story to tell of people off the reservation taking children and trying to educate them for a place in city society.
The acting in “Let Him Go” is quite good. Kevin Costner is the rather reluctant ex-lawman who would ponder this awhile instead of acting in haste. His calm demeanor is just right for this role. Diane Lane’s Margaret is a woman with a steel backbone, who acts right away and won’t back down. Her eyes tell her story. Leslie Manville steals her scenes looking like a saloon gal and has to have everyone’s attention all the time. Jeffrey Donovan (“Burn Notice”) is especially notable as part of the Weboy family. When the tug-of-war begins between the two women, who will win?
“Let Him Go” is really a battle between the two women, each with a special kind of determination, and each with a special kind of getting under your skin. One does it with violence and the other with words. Watch their body language. Margaret doesn’t have any children to show what kind of mother she was, but Blanche has her boys, and they were bought up on discipline with a capital “D.” After seeing the new husband being cruel to his wife and step-son, you know what direction the film is going. Just sit back and let everything come over you from meeting the new in-laws, to what do we do now? The Old West hasn’t died away in this movie, it still lingers in the hinterlands and John Wayne coming to the rescue doesn’t always happen. It may be too early to start talking Oscar nominations, but Diane Lane could get one, as could Leslie Manville and cinematographer Guy Godfree.
Copyright 2020 Marie Asner