Cinematic Releases: Let Him Go (2020) - Reviewed


Writer-director Thomas Bezucha’s adaptation of Larry Watson’s neo-Western dramatic novel of the same name Let Him Go is a low key middle-aged Western drama which starts out as a strong tale of two elders traveling cross country to find their missing grandchild only to happen upon a matriarch running a hillbilly family crazier than the ones in The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia.  

It’s a strange but modestly sized indie drama which is largely quiet yet punctuated by explosive moments of violence and mayhem that border on the ludicrous.  Starring Diane Lane and Kevin Costner who give pitch perfect performances as they make their travelogue through 1963 Montana across the country, it’s a generally solid picture which threatens to defecate on the bed the moment a hammy Lesley Manville shows up to shake things up. 


A bit of a shame as I love low key modern westerns of the new millennia and Kevin Costner certainly is no stranger to the American Midwest films.  The real heroine of the piece is Diane Lane who senses something is amiss in her daughter’s strained relationship with her new husband after their son dies after falling during horseback riding.  Somewhere in this scenic widescreen indie effort lensed by Guy Godfree is a solid drama about the gulf of familial bonds and how far one will go to rescue a loved one from an abusive relationship.  Lesley Manville will always be the great actress from Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread to me and seeing her chew the scenery up here couldn’t help but make my heart sink. 

Aimed at middle-aged moviegoers who like their neo-westerns peppered with a little bit of violence, Let Him Go is the kind of film which starts out as an A list drama only to end as a B movie with the cliched final showdown conjuring up all manner of Hell, fire and brimstone.  Industry veteran Michael Giacchino’s score appropriately represents the tonal shifts in the movie but watching the film feels like another picture hijacked and invaded the one we’ve been watching for the last hour.  

As I said, the film is something of a missed opportunity for the drama built up and the low-key mood sustained only to have a near-parody of the miscreants from Deliverance show up to wreak havoc.  Yes it’s well adapted from the source and well made but I can’t help but feel this one slipped on a banana peel and never got back on it’s feet again.

--Andrew Kotwicki