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At the Movies: Costner, Lane give it a ‘Go’

“Let Him Go” brings Kevin Costner and Diane Lane back to the big screen in a southern gothic thriller, by way of the great northwest, that has a plot twist as shocking as it is unexpected.

In “Let Him Go,” it’s Montana, 1963, and George Blackledge (Costner), a retired sheriff, and Margaret (Diane Lane), his wife, are concerned about the welfare of their grandson, Jimmy (Finn Lee-Epp), after the boy’s father James (Ryan Bruce) dies when thrown from a horse.

George and Margaret’s step-daughter, Lorna (Kayli Carter), remarries. Margaret witnesses the new husband, Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain), hit the step-daughter and grandson. Margaret is determined to travel to North Dakota to gain custody of the grandson.

That’s when the trouble begins. You’ve heard of the adage, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”? That aphorism could be the subtitle of “Let Him Go.”

It seems everyone in the film makes bad decisions, either out of good intentions, fear or defensiveness. To go into details here would spoil the film for you. Suffice it to say, no good comes of any of their decisions.

The good that comes of “Let Him Go” is manifold. Most notably are the performances of Costner and Lane, who are a joy to watch as old pros who relish the prose of the screenplay.

Costner (Oscar recipient, actor, picture, “Dances with Wolves,” 1990) has a weathered face and slow gait, but manages to evoke that rueful grin of his. Look for a possible Oscar actor nomination for Costner.

Lane (Oscar nominee, actress, “Unfaithful,” 2003) is a good counter-balance to Costner. She’s more talky, assertive and calculating. She’s her own worst enemy. She’s a whirlwind of one-mindedness, not realizing the path of damage wrought by her stormy emotions. Look for a possible Oscar actress nomination for Lane.

Lesley Manville, as the matriarch, Blanche Weboy, creates one of the scariest mommie dearest roles since Joan Crawford in “Mildred Pierce” (1945) and Angela Lansbury in “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962). Look for a possible Oscar supporting actress nomination for Manville.

Jeffrey Donovan (“Honest Thief,” 2020) as one of Blanche’s sons, Bill, creates a blandly scary personage.

Kayli Carter (TV’s “Miss America,” 2020, “Godless,” 2017), as the step-daughter, Lorna Blackledge, is memorable for capturing a spirited vulnerability.

Thomas Bezucha directs from a screenplay he wrote based on a novel by Larry Watson. Stylistically, Bezucha (“Monte Carlo,’ 2011; “The Family Stone,” 2005; “Big Eden,” 2000) keeps a tight rein on the proceedings, not unlike the great director Clint Eastwood.

“Let Him Go” has the sense of an Eastwood masterwork, with a bit of the Hatfields & the McCoys (2012 miniseries in which Costner starred), the brutish violence of “In Cold Blood” (1967) and the quest for a person as in “The Searchers” (1956).

Bezucha bookends the film with wordless scenes that effectively mirror the promise and results of rash decision-making. The production design by Trevor Smith (TV’s “Fargo,” 2014 - ) of authentic exteriors and interiors, along with an old green Dodge pickup and a tan 1958 Chevrolet station wagon, emphasizes the film’s time and place.

The cinematography by director of photography Guy Godfree (“Maudie,” 2016) depicts the splendor of the mountainous west in all its daunting glory.

The music by Michael Giacchino (Oscar, original score, “Up,” 2009) skillfully builds the tension in this allegory.

“Let Him Go” is a disturbing film set in a time nearly 60 years ago when family matters were more the provenance of the wild, wild west than domestic relations court.

“Let Him Go,”

MPAA rated R (Restricted Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.) for violence ; Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller; Run Time: 1 hr. 54 min. Distributed by Focus Features.

Credit Readers Anonymous:

“Let Him Go” was filmed in Alberta, Canada.

At the Movies:

“Let Him Go” was seen at the Movie Tavern, Trexlertown with pandemic protocols in place.

Movie Box Office,

Nov. 13-15, “Freaky” opened at No. 1 with $3.7 million, on 2,472 screens, as “Let Him Go” dropped from No. 1 to No. 2, with $1.8 million, on 2,458 screens, and $6.8 million, two weeks.

3. “The War with Grandpa,” starring Allentown’s Oakes Fegley, stayed at No. 3 with $1.3 million, on 2,145 screens, and $15.2 million, six weeks. 4. “Come Play,” starring Allentown’s Winslow Fegley, dropped two places, with $1.1 million, on 1,966 screens; $7.3 million, three weeks. 5. “Honest Thief” dropped one place, $800,000, on 1,843 screens; $12.3 million, six weeks. 6. “Tenet” stayed in place, $735,000, on 1,223 screens; $56.3 million, 11 weeks. 7. “Guardians of the Galaxy,” $406,000, on 1,560 screens, one week, 2020 re-release. 8.” True to the Game 2,” $287,819, on 281 screens, $610,710, two weeks. 9. “Toy Story,” $222,000, on 1,360 screens, $727,000, two weeks, 2020 re-release. 10. “Elf,” $170,000, on 300 screens, $173,568, one week, 2020 re-release.

Box office statistics are from Box Office Mojo.

Unreel,

Nov. 20

“Jiu Jitsu,”

R: Dimitri Logothetis directs Nicolas Cage, Marie Avgeropoulos, Frank Grillo, Tony Jaa , Rick Yune, JuJu Chan and Alain Moussi in the Action Fantasy film. The new Science-Fiction Martial Arts franchise is from Dimitri Logothetis, Director of “Kickboxer: Retaliation.”

“The Furies,”

No MPAA rating: Tony D’Aquino directs Airlie Dodds, Linda Ngo, Taylor Ferguson, Tom O’Sullivan and Steve Morris in the Action Horror Thriller. A kidnapped woman is forced to participate in a deadly game.

“The Last Vermeer,”

R: Dan Friedkin directs Daan Aufenacker, Claes Bang, Matt Beauman-Jones and Kim Chapman in the Drama. An artist is accused of selling a valuable painting by Vermeer to the Nazis. The film is based on the book, “The Man Who Made Vermeers.”

“Vanguard,”

No MPAA rating: Stanley Tong directs Jackie Chan, Yang Yang and Miya Muqi in the Action film. An accountant targeted by a mercenary group seeks the protection of Vanguard, a security company.

Movie opening dates are from Internet Movie Database.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY FOCUS FEATURES Diane Lane (Margaret), Kevin Costner (George), “Let Him Go.”