EDITOR’S NOTE: While the Hassle treasures the theatrical experience, your health and safety should always come first. Before engaging in any activity in an enclosed public space, please weigh the risks and consider the potential consequences, and know that this review will still be here when this film is available to watch in the safety of your home. In the meantime, we encourage you as always to support your local theater via donations, gift cards, or virtual screening rentals. Be safe out there, and when the time comes, we’ll see you at the movies.
How do you determine if a film is camp? I don’t know if I can explain it, but I know it when I see it. For example, when the director of The Family Stone takes a Kevin Costner western thriller, gives the true leading role to Diane Lane, and puts her face-to-face with Lesley Manville doing a southern accent and brandishing a pistol, I’m gonna say the film is at least a LITTLE camp. Thomas Bezucha, who also directed the lovely gay romcom Big Eden, works with a far more serious tone in Let Him Go, a tale of loss and revenge led by the always-entrancing Lane. Though there are long stretches with not much happening on screen, the story is overall compelling and nerve wracking in the special way only a real film can accomplish.
Let Him Go stars Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as Margaret and George, a married couple living on a ranch in Montana with their son, his wife, Lorna (Kayli Carter), and their grandson, Jimmy. Their life is happy until their son unexpectedly dies, leading his young wife to fall for a new man, Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain), and leave the homestead. Only days after Margaret witnesses the new man slapping Lorna, the young couple skips town with Jimmy in tow. Understandably perturbed, Margaret starts to investigate the Weboy family, hoping to bring Lorna and Jimmy back.
George and Margaret then travel to the Weboy’s land, where they meet the family matriarch Blanche (Lesley Manville) and her four sons, who are more like Leatherface’s family than a happy home. Immediately, Margaret can tell Lorna and Jimmy are in danger and becomes more determined than ever to save her family. Things take quite a turn here, as Margaret may have underestimated Blanche’s hold on those around her.
Blanche and her large sons are where the film dives deep into camp, as Manville hoots and hollers and snarls while Lane and Costner stare in horror. Never has a Hudson Bay coat been worn with such menace. Costner seems to understand his character is secondary to Lane’s, which I did not expect. Let Him Go becomes a fight between two mothers, a shockingly violent one that perhaps doesn’t interrogate as hard as it could, but it still provides a stunning and brutal climax. Lane and Manville would do anything for their children, and the film is almost too afraid to ask if either is truly in the wrong.
Let Him Go can find its audience, but it may take some time to be recognized as the interesting and subversive film it is. At the very least, it’s a sharp contrast to The Family Stone, which focuses on an entirely different kind of familiar horror.
Let Him Go
Dir. Thomas Bezucha
In theaters 11/6 and available on VOD soon