Thomas Bezucha must have thought that Kevin Costner and Diane Lane looked very natural as a couple when playing Superman’s earth parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, in Zack Snyder 2013 film Man of Steel. Although the two didn’t get much screen time together in that movie, they more than make up for it in the thriller, Let Him Go. Based on Larry Watson’s 2013 novel of the same name, the writer/director casted Costner to play retired sheriff George Blackledge and Lane his bride, Margaret who trains troubled horses. The couple live on a small ranch in Montana with their adult son James (Ryan Bruce), his young wife Lorna (Kayli Carter) and their infant grandson, Jimmy. Though the family unit is strong and loving, it is clear that there is a rift between Lorna and Margaret who dotes on her grandson.
The film takes no time at all to kill off James’ character leaving Lorna to live alone with her inlaws. Then the it zips two to three years where the Blackedge’s are attending the marriage of their now former daughter-in-law to Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain). It’s pretty clear that George and Margaret don’t approve of Donnie, but they vow to make the best of things so that they can continue to see their grandson.
After the honeymoon and without warning, Donnie moves his new family to his family’s home in North Dakota. Margaret is furious and suspects that Jimmy will get hurt by his step dad if she doesn’t intervene. With or without George’s help and come hell or high water, Margaret is determined to get her grandson and bring him back “home.” He reluctantly agrees to go with her. The two couldn’t be more opposite about their feelings about this trip. Margaret wants her grandson back and she seems to think that some solid reasoning will help set Lorna straight. George is a bit more of a realist about the situation and almost pleads with his wife to change her mind and go home.
Along their journey, the couple meet Peter Dragswolf (Booboo Stewart) and quickly befriend him. He is a lover of horses and he bonds with Margaret quickly. His addition doesn’t add much to the main story, but he is a likeable character.
Eventually, out in the middle of nowhere, the Blackledge’s arrive at the Weboy family home where they meet Blanche (Lesley Manville), Donnie’s tough-as-nails mother. Blanche is rough around the edges but she’s made pork chops for her guests, so maybe this visit won’t be so bad after all. But there is tension in the air and it’s a very uncomfortble meeting.
While waiting for Donnie to arrive home with their grandson, Margaret explains her concerns to Blanche, but chain-smoker is having none of it. Blanche is still smarting from the fact that she wasn’t invited to her own son’s wedding when George and Margaret were. She also explains that now that she got Donnie back to the family homestead, she has no intention of letting him leave again any time soon.
Let Him Go is a slow burn thriller taking a good half of the movie to set up the eventual meetup of the two families, but it’s worth the wait. And honestly, the story keeps you guessing a bit. Margaret’s coldness toward Lorna makes you wonder if all she cares about is her son’s child. She’s a grand-mama bear with her mind made up. George is reluctant for good reason. Even if they are able to get Jimmy away from the Weboy’s clutches, will that be the end of it or will trouble just follow them? And that Blanche is something else. Manville’s portrayal of this woman is just amazing. She’s horrible and fascinating at the same time.
Let’s just say that after the initial meeting of the families, things take a turn and things get violent. The story becomes a balancing act of realism and over-the-top antics. Sacrifices are made but so are reconciliations.
Costner is always good, but he sort of takes a backseat in this film. This is Lane’s movie and her characterization of Margaret is a complicated one. For that matter, so is this movie. It’s a dramatic, redemptive, tragic, thriller and even a romance all wrapped up into one engaging story. Like a rollercoaster, it starts up slow, but Buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.