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Movie Review: Why Kevin Costner's 'Let Him Go' Will Shock You

Let Him Go Kevin Costner George Blackledge Focus Features
Kimberly French / Focus Features 

It is tough to put “Let Him Go” into words. In attempting to do so, the adjectives: haunting, painful, shocking, suspenseful, and disturbing are some of the ones that come to mind. If you have not watched the trailer, the Kevin Costner thriller’s on-paper premise sparks a notion about this film that ultimately does not prove true.

“Let Him Go” will undoubtedly appeal to “Yellowstone” fans as Kevin Costner does not venture far from that domain. Costner stars as George Blackledge, a retired lawman and rancher (sounds slightly familiar). George and his wife, Margaret (Diane Lane), soon find their bucolic home life disrupted when their son, James, dies suddenly.

James leaves behind a wife, Lorna (Kaylie Carter), and a baby son named Jimmy. With the death of James, “Let Him Go” reaches its turning point. Some time passes, and Lorna remarries the abusive Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain). Eventually, George and Margaret get cut off from their grandson when Lorna and Jimmy abruptly move away with Donnie. To which Margaret literally takes up arms. 

Margaret has witnessed the abuse of her grandson and former daughter-in-law in broad daylight. So, what is her plan? Margaret wants her and George to track down Donnie, Lorna, and Jimmy to get their grandson back. George is initially reticent and doubtful of his wife’s story. In his mind, the narrative fits too neatly into her desire to have Jimmy all to herself.

George’s wife is fervently persistent, though, and George somewhat begrudgingly agrees to find Jimmy. Hence, their journey to “Let Him Go.” A title that takes on many meanings through the course of the movie. There is the title’s obvious meaning. Margaret wants her daughter-in-law to “let him (Jimmy) go.” George wants Margaret to let Jimmy go. 

The Weboys want the Blackledges to let Jimmy go, and those are not the only scenarios that fit what happens during the nearly 2-hour runtime. What unravels is a poetic family feud, a road trip movie, and a love story between two reflective souls in their golden years. Overall, the movie and how Kevin Costner plays into it is unexpected.

Unlike “Yellowstone,” where Costner is front and center, “Let Him Go” is actually Diane Lane’s starring vehicle with Costner along for the ride. There is a budding sense of a two-hander in the last act, but Costner does not get treated as a co-star overall.

As “Let Him Go” unfolded for this viewer, that felt like a sucker punch. Fans of Kevin Costner and “Yellowstone” will not miss the parallels between John Dutton’s response to a similar storyline. Hence, they are likely to expect one version of events and get another one. Once you get over the initial shock that Costner is not getting postured in the same vein, you can accept “Let Him Go” for what it is. 

It is a bold movie about good people running up against evil. To her massive credit, Diane Lane grabs the spotlight with a knockout performance that drives the film. It may be her greatest work since “Unfaithful,” although it is nice to see her play someone exceedingly loyal. 

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner, who played Ma and Pa Kent in “Man of Steel,” play off of each other fantastically in this more expansive dynamic. They make a convincing long-time married couple, and Costner provides a terrific center for the film. Costner’s classic movie star mystique is in full force as he portrays quiet George. 

The showstopper for “Let Him Go” is an earnest and extraordinarily moving monologue between Margaret and George during a dinner date towards the movie’s midpoint. Seldom does a discussion between characters reminiscing breathe with such sincerity or emotion. It is not a scene that this viewer will soon forget. After all, it brought them to tears. 

All told, “Let Him Go” provides an excellent showcase for all involved, including Lesley Manville (Blanche Weboy) and Booboo Stewart (Peter Dragswolf). If you can adjust your expectations, “Let Him Go” will shock and move you. It is one of 2020’s best movies for a reason. There is a lot to unpack, and it will stay with you for a long time afterward.

Rating: 8/10

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Is It Worth The Extra Money?

As of January 2021, the only way to watch “Let Him Go” is by renting it for nearly $20 (technically $19.99). For some context, it cost nearly $5 to rent the sequel to “Attraction” on Amazon Prime Video. Is it worth paying 4-times as much to watch Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play grandparents waging war for their grandson? It certainly did not feel like a rip-off.

If you feel like you would prefer to wait, considering the hefty cost, it will not be too much longer. DVDs Release Date reports that “Let Him Go” will be available on DVD and Blu-Ray starting February 2. Either way, it is worth seeing.

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