How would you say that you get along with your in-laws? The stereotype is that they can tend to be a bit of a nightmare. Then there are in-laws of in-laws, imagine what that would be like. The new movie from Focus Features, Let Him Go, tells a tragic and deadly tale of one family that will do whatever it takes to protect their only grandson.
Before I get to my spoiler free review, here is the synopsis from Focus Features: "Following the loss of their son, retired sheriff George Blackledge (Kevin Costner) and his wife Margaret (Diane Lane) leave their Montana ranch to rescue their young grandson from the clutches of a dangerous family living off the grid in the Dakotas, headed by matriarch Blanche Weboy. When they discover the Weboys have no intention of letting the child go, George and Margaret are left with no choice but to fight for their family."
So let's start with the good. Diane Lane gives a wonderful performance at the headstrong and determined Margaret Blackledge. She is not just some helpless wife of a retired Sheriff, which we've all seen in far too many movies. She loves her husband, of course, but she doesn't need him to save her. Costner's George is a more reserved, steadfast type that you would typically see in a depiction of small town farm life. Still you can see the burdens that he carries inside written all over his face at times, and that is a vulnerability not often seen in depictions of similar characters. As a pair, they balance each other our well and you feel everything that they go through.
Speaking of what they're going through, let me talk about the Weboy family for a moment. Without spoiling anything, I can tell you, every moment in the presence of this group is filled with a tension that is constantly buzzing. Perhaps the best performance of all is from Lesley Manville, who plays the Weboy matriarch Blanche. She has a terrifying hold on this family, and seemingly, anyone who comes in contact with them. She's one of those characters that, when she enters a room, you know always feel like something terrible is going to happen. For me that really stood out, and what that did was make me really want to see this poor kid get away from this family. The rest of the family is just as dirty, but she is the spatula flipping the chops in this particular case, so it all leads back to her. She alone accomplishes the mission of making me, as a viewer, want to see the Blackledge family save that child.
The movie does have a couple of issues. While the tension is good, it does kind of take forever to get there. I understand the character building in the early stages, and dealing with the tragedy of the loss of their son. At the same time, this movie spends a lot of time in the lead up and some detective work that probably could have been cut much shorter than it was. You can't jump right to the tension, but you can't crawl there either. I felt like we got to know one family plenty, but another note quite enough. I'll let you be the judge of which is which.
The other issue I had was with the ending as a whole. There was some good things about it, including a save that was a nice payoff to an earlier scene that seemed like a throwaway at the time. We also had another callback at a very tender moment, which was also good. The conflict as a whole, to me, just seemed a bit too rushed and too easy. Sure it wasn't completely predictable, but that doesn't mean that it was executed perfectly. Don't mistake this for an action movie, it's a tense family drama, but you sent me up for a showdown at the end that didn't deliver like it probably should have.
In the end, the strength of family and the bonds that they share are really what this movie is about to me. If you're a parent, or a grandparent, I think it's hard not to have that parental radar up while watching this. It also makes certain scenes hit a bit harder too, I think. Still, even with a few standout performances, I'm not sure Let Him Go stands out enough to be memorable, even in at a less than crowded box office. While this movie doesn't really fit into a specific box of a family drama, horror thriller or other genre, there isn't much in the way of new ground being broken either. If you're Diane Lane or Kevin Costner fan, you'll likely enjoy it. If you don't become invested in the family itself, there just isn't much else there to make up for it. I'm very 50-50 on this one. I enjoyed it, but I also feel like I will likely forget about it within the next month or so.
Let Him Go can be seen in theaters this Friday, November 6th.