by Rob DiCristino
Despite its mid-century setting, Thomas Bezucha’s Let Him Go is a bit of a modern marvel: It’s an earnest drama for adults, a sweeping pastoral brimming with heart that avoids the Down-Home histrionics that often make the genre unbearable. Based on the novel by Larry Watson, it’s also literate without being too dense, layering in story through mood and tone whenever exposition would feel invasive or unnatural. The film is nearly silent for its first few minutes, in fact, yet its imagery is so provocative that we’re never left groping for details. It’s a simple tale, well told. Its eyes are exactly as big as its stomach. There’s something remarkable about that in this hellish Year of Our Vengeful Lord 2020, isn’t there? There’s something reassuring about seeing Kevin Costner and Diane Lane holding hands and kicking ass up on our big silver screens. I think there is. I think it feels good. And so, while Let Him Go likely won’t garner enough mainstream attention for Oscar buzz, it’s proof that Americana still works if it’s played with grace and integrity.
Spoilers: It does not. The Blackledges are focused, united, and relentless. Costner carries his decades as America’s moral center right into his portrayal of George, the former lawman willing to risk life — and, in an unexpectedly awesome bit of violence — limb to bring his grieving wife some inner peace. It’s an appropriately understated performance with enormous deference to the passionate and resolute Lane, who continues to prove that only a worthwhile screenplay can fully encapsulate her godlike luminescence. Though Margaret teeters on the edge of reason, no parent would begrudge her a shot at righting what once went wrong. Love and loss permeate throughout her story, after all. They are inextricably connected; death is the price we pay for a meaningful life. But that doesn’t mean we go down without a fight. That doesn’t mean we let domineering trailer trash like Blanche Weboy corrupt the Blackledge legacy out of fear of losing her own sons. Margaret will go beyond what is rational to do what she feels is necessary.