Retired sheriff George Blackledge (Kevin Costner) and his wife Margaret (Diane Lane) live with their son, James, his wife, Lorna (Kayli Carter), and their grandson, Jimmy, until tragedy strikes and James dies. Lorna marries Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain) and moves into the Weboy family home. But when Margaret spots Donnie striking Lorna and Jimmy on the street, she becomes determined to take their grandson home, even at the reluctance of George to get involved.
‘Let Him Go’ opens with a vision of family harmony that is erupted by a sudden and untimely death. We feel the undercurrent of George and Margaret’s grief, and the latter’s shock and outrage upon witnessing Donnie’s abuse. ‘Let Him Go’ feels genuine in its emotion thanks to some compelling performances, led by the fantastic Diane Lane and Kevin Costner. That combined with an intense and thrilling narrative make for an enveloping, entertaining watch.
George and Margaret are playing a dangerous game, and are well aware they’re too old to be playing it. The territory (literally and figuratively speaking) is perilous and allies are few, if any. The intensity is really kicked up a notch when Lesley Manville’s matriarch Blanche Weboy arrives on the scene. She’s chatty with a subtle, threatening nature – you know getting on her bad side would mean physical and psychological pain. Manville’s performance makes one all the more excited to see her turn as Princess Margaret in the next series of ‘The Crown’. She’s something of an underrated actress, in spite of leading a rich, impressive and varied career.
There are a couple of real standout scenes in ‘Let Him Go’ such as one in which our married protagonists stand against the wilderness, negotiating whether this venture is worth it, then there’s the first gathering around the Weboy kitchen table, and a later Weboy family attack. In many ways, the film is conventional, its combination of family drama, revenge thriller and neo-Western not really being much new. But Costner, Lane, Manville and Jeffrey Donovan (who is also brilliant, and terrifying) elevate the movie. Moreover, it’s well-written, well-paced, exciting and soul-stirring.