Rick Brough has this week’s Friday Film Review, about a quiet modern-day Western that morphs into something quite different.
The new film “Let Him Go” stars two iconic actors who began in the Eighties—Diane Lane and Kevin Costner.
They play Margaret and George Blackledge, who live a pretty contented life on a Montana ranch with their adult son, his wife and baby.
But the son dies tragically in a horse fall. Jump ahead a few years later, and his widow, Lorna, marries again to a character named Donny Weboy.
It’s not long before Donny is revealed as an abusive jerk—and then he disappears, snatching away George and Margaret’s cherished grandson. All they know is that he’s gone back to his people, somewhere in North Dakota.
Costner and Lane have played a couple before—they were Ma and Pa Kent in a Superman movie “Man of Steel.” Here, they show a laconic, lived-in rapport as Margaret, who’s got a serious case of the stubborns, hits the road, and former lawman George, doubtful but loyal, joins the quest.
Under the direction of Thomas Bazucha, who also wrote the screenplay, the two stars convince you to stick with a plot line that starts to look a little odd—like having you believe that, without too much time or trouble, they find the corner of North Dakota where the Weboys live—and where the locals react to their name with wary, apprehensive looks.
The clan, it turns out, is a nest of evil rednecks, presided over by frightening matriarch Blanche (played by British actress Lesley Manville) who can whip out a hatchet if she’s in the mood.
In its last 30 or 40 minutes, the movie turns into something reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah’s 70’s violence-fest “Straw Dogs”, with some ordinary, decent people pushed to the point of taking drastic action. The story, set in the early Sixties, is just distant enough to make you believe that the Blackledges can find little help. The result is fire, gunplay and plenty of casualties.
Some viewers might reject the crazy turns in the story. I was persuaded, just enough, to empathize with Margaret and George, who can’t let their flesh and blood be suckled on poison. The theme is reinforced with a side character, a lonely young Native American brought up in a Reservation school that stomped out his roots.
“Let Him Go” which can be found on Prime Video or Redbox, is a flawed film. But on the Horse-Whisperer scale, it’s three-and-a-half out of five. For the Friday Film Review, I’m Rick Brough.