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Review: Let Him Go – “Sublimely subtle and nuanced”

Diane Lane (left) stars as “Margaret Blackledge” and Kevin Costner (right) stars as “George Blackledge” in director Thomas Bezucha’s LET HIM GO, a Focus Features release.
Credit : Kimberley French / Focus Features

All of the films that I just missed out on towards the end of 2020 are suddenly appearing. It’s almost like someone has heard me screaming into the void and course corrected the start of 2021, for me.

Synchronic – Check. Promising Young Woman – Check. Now we have Let Him Go.

Make no mistake, all three of these would’ve been right up the top of my best films of 2020. As it is, they’ll have to sit rightly at the top of 2021’s list.

Without spoiling a thing, we’re talking a meditation on loss. A story of a man (Kevin Costner) following his wife (Diane Lane) — who, authentically, is The Real Boss — because he loves her. Whether it’s a horse or a memory. It’s about learning to let things go before you harbour ill-feeling, that can turn good people bad.

A genuinely shocking opening doesn’t distract from the incredible scenery.

We’re in middle America, acres of space, ranches, tough men, plaid shirts and, most importantly for me, Kevin Costner.

An ex-Sheriff, it could play like a latter-day sequel to any of his many brilliant westerns. Later, in the thrilling finale, when guns seem to carry weight limitations, it harkens back to the exquisite Open Range.

The film is based on the Larry Watson novel Montana 1948 which director Thomas Bezucha read in a day. He then adapted it first to the screen and played the long game. He knows he’s got Costner, but he’s got Lane as well. Time spent on a tender relationship pays off hugely come the climax.

Their differing coping mechanisms for loss is always in the background, but as they roam the streets or eat at diners, the languid pace is never a disadvantage to the film. It becomes its main strength. Costner stops to buy a half bottle of whiskey at one point. Mid-conversation he takes a swig — on the sidewalk — and he could again be back in a Western. As he returns to the car he discovers Lane has brought their gun on their car journey. There’s a brilliant discussion about why they’d need it and the analogy of feeling safe in Trump’s America is writ large.

To say anything at all about the plot would be a disservice. Avoid the trailer and absolutely avoid the blurb, which unnecessarily ruins a major plot point.

A hero is someone that does the right thing, even when no one is watching. This film is smart enough to know that, in 2020 or 2021, the waters are murkier than ever.

It will make a brilliant companion piece to Hell Or Highwater, I think. Another neo-western/Greek tragedy that is bold enough to say it’s okay not to be okay.

One final flourish towards the end. America’s history — and future? — seen in the rearview mirror. Sublimely subtle and nuanced. I could just about take it in as my wife and I debated who was ugly crying more.

Fantastic film.

Seek it out. It’s out now to rent & buy on USiTunes.

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