(director/writer: Thomas Bezucha; screenwriter: novel by Larry Watson; cinematographer: Guy Godfree; editors: Meg Reticker/Jeff Ford; music: Michael Giacchino ; cast:  Diane Lane (Margaret Blackledge),  Kevin Costner (George Blackledge),  Lesley Manville (Blanche Weboy), Kayli Carter (Lorna), Will Brittain ( Donnie Weboy), Jeff Donovan (Bill Weboy), Booboo Stewart (Peter Dragswolf ),  (Jimmy Blackledge); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Mitchell Kaplan/Paula Mazur/Thomas Bezucha; Focus Features; 2020)

Well-acted as a character study and very entertaining.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Thomas Bezucha (“Big Eden”/”The Family Stone”) shoots for a crime thriller in his first film in a decade. The Western period piece is an adaptation of the 2013 novel by Larry Watson. The crime melodrama is in tone a revenge film. It takes place in the desolate rural plateaus of Montana and North Dakota in the late 1960s.

Margaret (Diane Lane) and George Blackledge (Kevin Costner) are an elderly couple, who live in Montana. George is a former sheriff, now a horse farmer. While Margaret is the family’s best rider. Happily living with them are their son James (Ryan Bruce), their naive young daughter-in-law Lorna (Kayli Carter) and their infant grandson Jimmy. Things take a bad turn when their son dies accidentally falling off a horse. 

Three years later George and Margaret discover their former daughter-in-law is married to the scurvy Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain), a normal looking guy but a child abuser. He returns to his homeland roots in North Dakota soon after Margaret catches him, while sitting in her car, beating his vulnerable wife and her grandson in the street for dropping an ice cream cone. The concerned grandparents, when learning he split, race by car to North Dakota to rescue their grandson, though without the target’s address and no court warrant.

In North Dakota, we meet the Webok matriarch, Blanche (Lesley Manville), in her isolated farmhouse, who cruelly rules her backwoods criminal clan with an iron hand like a mob boss. The Blackledges have dinner with her and afterwards are briefly shown Lorna and Jimmy on the farm. They try to peacefully get them back, but are rejected.

In this poorly paced film,  it’s up to the gun-toting frenzied Margaret and her placid good guy hubby to get back their 3-year-old grandson from this bad lot and must do so as action heroes engaging in shoot-outs. Though they have no legal rights to get them back, the noble couple will not allow them to turn Jimmy into a sadistic criminal like the rest of the males in this crime family.

Well-acted as a character study and very entertaining, Let Him Go gets under your skin as it lets you know something dear about how a grandmother’s love can be so fierce. But the film becomes unconvincing when it turns into a shootout action picture, and show how only by frontier justice can they get what’s right.

<em>Let Him Go</em>

REVIEWED ON 11/12/2020  GRADE:  B-