Let Him Go

Movie Information

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner reunite in this well-written and acted thriller.
Genre: Thriller
Director: Thomas Bezucha
Starring: Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Lesley Manville
Rated: R

“Grandparents attempt to rescue grandson from evil stepfather.” Though a brave and ambitious undertaking for any not-exactly-spry couple, it’s a fairly basic setup for the aptly titled Let Him Go — but under the pragmatic direction of Thomas Bezucha (The Family Stone), the premise proves surprisingly tense and entertaining.

Seven years after playing Clark Kent’s parents in Man of Steel, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner build on their appealing rapport, this time as Martha and George Blackledge, good 1950s Montana people mourning the sudden loss of their adult son James (Ryan Bruce).

Already not keen on their daughter-in-law Lorna (Kayli Carter, Private Life) marrying Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain, Everybody Wants Some!!), they become less so after Martha witnesses him hit Lorna and her young son Jimmy (played by twin brothers Bram and Otto Hornung), and then are driven to action when Donnie uproots his new bride and stepchild without leaving a forwarding address.

While Martha’s plan of tracking them down and bringing Jimmy home is a little far-fetched, George’s law enforcement past and gumshoelike ability to sniff out trouble imbues their quest with a decent amount of hope.

But not even his instincts can keep them from running afoul of Weboy’s family, whose members’ own skills of detection keep them at least one step ahead of the Blackledges and provide them an insidious brand of home-field advantage.

Be it from Donnie’s mother, Blanche (Lesley Manville, channeling some big Melissa Leo energy), uncle Bill (Jeffrey Donovan, reminiscent of his “Fargo” season-two role) or intimidating brothers Marvin (Adam Stafford) and Elton (Connor Mackay), their menacing behavior turns the name Weboy from one of the most innocent utterances possible (“wee boy”) to a word that makes viewers shudder with each mention.

Adapting Larry Watson’s novel of the same name, Bezucha amplifies the suspense of the families’ encounters through workmanlike means, relying on the script’s noirlike dialogue and performances by his talented cast rather than flashy filmmaking.

Paired with majestic Canadian landscapes — convincingly standing in for the American West — Bezucha’s straightforward style fits the nature of the lean narrative while leaving room for surprises from both clans. His approach also proves just how foundational good writing and acting can be and makes a compelling case for a resurgence of modestly budgeted thrillers.

Starts Nov. 6 at the Carolina Cinemark

About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA).

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