Let Him Go is a story about a retired sheriff and his wife, who after the loss of their son, set out to find their only grandson.
It is a sombre and moving drama about mothers and sons and the various natures that those relationships can go through. Let Him Go opens up innocently, the Blackledge family are a content one. James (Ryan Bruce), his wife Lorna (Kayli Carter) and their son Jimmy live with James’ parents, George (Kevin Costner) and Margaret (Diane Lane) on the Blackledge farm.
Everything is going well, even if Margaret is something of a helicopter grandparent. Then sadly one day, tragedy strikes and James dies after falling off a horse. The film moves to three years later as George and Margaret are at Lorna’s wedding, watching her marry her new beau Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain). Neither are happy about this, particularly Margaret who worries she won’t see her grandson as much. One day Margaret is in town and she sees Donnie strike both Jimmy and Lorna. Deciding she needs to make sure Jimmy is alright, she heads over the next day. She then learns that Donnie and Lorna have left town, with no return in sight. Margaret decides that she needs to find them and with George, in tow, they head off to find their grandson.
Can we let him go?
The pacing of Let Him Go is well pitched. The film doesn’t try to turn into some kind of Taken rip off as Margaret and Geroge try to retrieve their grandson. It is meticulous, they lay out what they must do and they set out. This isn’t an edge of your seat adventure, this is a film with quiet characters moments that build to a kind of bomb going off.
As we connect to George and Margaret, we further connect with their plight. There is a simple scene involving the two of them in their station wagon with them enjoying music. When the radio station changes over to the new frequency they go from being jovial and reminiscing to tense and resentful. Margaret remarks that the sermon they hear reminds her of George’s father and his memories of his father are less than favourable.
What is also fascinating is that when this scene occurs not shortly after the Blackledges enter a very dangerous place.
There is a relief of tension when the film ends and it’s brilliant. The backdrop of this film is equally as deep. The vast valleys are beautiful and the forests are lush and mysterious adding a sense of melancholy to the film. Also though the film is set in the 60s the score harkens back to a simpler time which is what the two leads are looking to return to. It’s quite moving.
A Sheriff and her deputy
Diane Lane is easily the best part of the film. She feels like an old western cowboy. She’s out for her own kind of justice. She is single-minded, she desperately wants to find Jimmy and nothing, not even the boy’s own mother can stop her. It is as much a negative against her as it is a positive. Her quest to find Jimmy, the last connection to her son is a costly one and she seems to be willing to pay the price. Meanwhile, you have Costner, who is definitely deputy to Lane’s sheriff. He’ll call her out on her crap, but he’ll always have her back. They are a compelling couple and I loved their warm and quiet relationship.
If there was anyone who wrestled the camera away from Lane it would be Leslie Manville’s terrifying Blanche Weboy. She is a frightening woman who has raised an equally unnerving family. When I say there is a scene which features three hulking men surrounding George and Margaret and the person you are most terrified by is their diminutive mother, I hope you understand her full presence within a scene.
I also must speak on a smaller, but impressive performance from Booboo Stewart. He’s a young Native American who has found solace away from civilisation. He has one particular scene explaining his situation and it is heartbreaking. He does so much with very little.
Mothers and their sons
Let Him Go is a film about mothers and their sons and the potency of their relationship, and what lengths they will go to for each other. This is seen with Margaret and the journey she takes in memory of James. It’s seen with the uncompromising ferocity of Blanche’s grip on her sons, and it’s seen with Lorna trying to actually raise Jimmy how she wants, while two other women think they know better.
The film is not perfect though. I found that once the film entered its final act the narrative became somewhat predictable. It’s a shame because up to this point I was having an absolute ball with the unpredictable nature. However, this is really all I had an issue with.
Let Him Go is a brilliant film with a stellar cast and a emotional potent narrative.
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