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Review: Strong performances lift neo-Western 'Let Him Go' above its telegraphed blows

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. (Photo: Kimberley French / Focus Features)

Let Him Go
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Thomas Bezucha
Writer: Thomas Bezucha, Larry Watson (novel)
Starring: Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Lesley Manville
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated: R for violence

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: Margaret and George Blackledge live a simple life in North Dakota. When their grandchild and son’s widow disappear from town, Margaret, believing the child is at risk, insists that she locate them and bring the boy back to live with them.

Review: Set in 1950s North Nebraska, “Let Him Go,’ is a tension-filled thriller dressed in neo-Western clothes. It stars Kevin Costner as George Blackledge, a former sheriff, Diane Lane as his wife Margaret (the duo was also cast as husband and wife in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”) and Lesley Manville as Blanche Weboy, the matriarch of a notorious family known for their lawlessness.

Based on Larry Watson’s novel, the film begins with the accidental death of the Blackledge’s son. He leaves behind a widow and a child. Time skips ahead a couple years and we see Lorna, the widow, marry Donnie Weboy. Soon after, Margaret, while driving through town, sees Donnie strike Lorna and her son. Days later, Margaret goes to check on her grandson. The family has vanished. Margaret is determined to find her grandson, bring him back to live with her and George.

What follows is a journey into the fringes of civilization where the Weboy family rules through fear and intimidation.

The film is carried by strong performances from Costner, Lane, and Jeffrey Donovan as Bill Weboy, the elder son who carries himself with a charming sense of malevolence. Manville is a bit melodramatic and chews the scenery with shameless aplomb. Blanche is a menace even before she appears on screen.

The story is fairly predictable. The ending pulls no punches, but it doesn’t exactly land the knockout blow. We know where this is going and there’s little catharsis to be found in the resolution. “Let Him Go” is a rough, gritty sort of film that has little space for quiet or peaceful moments.