With 2020 being a time when we’re all alone, it seems to have become more of a habit for some people to prefer being alone, and movies like Let Him Go, no matter how badly it wants to discuss serious topics, are actually counterproductive in terms of reminding us why we need each other so badly. As much as it shows how broken families can become, the way all the chaos is resolved lacks a real sense of knowing what it wants the audience to walk away with.
Throughout the film, there’s an excessive amount of melodic music playing, and it just wasn’t necessary. The look on Kevin Costner’s face is all you need to know how you’re supposed to feel, that is, as long as you’re able to overlook the bad blood and wound effects. With the almost cheesy amount of emotional manipulation, there’s also an equally cheesy on-the-nose villain, played by Lesley Manville, who makes a grand entrance to ominous music, not to mention she is wearing a really fake wig that makes her look like Cruella DeVille. Although besides just being accidentally silly, it’s also pretty unrealistic here and there, particularly in the event that sets everything into gear. A man is seen beating his wife and stepson on a public street, which is so not how domestic abuse happens; it always happens behind closed doors where nobody can see it happen, not the dumb way it’s seen here.
Because of its dishonest detachment from reality, the structure of each scene right away leaves you confused about how some characters are related. Some scenes are not ordered correctly to give you the necessary information, others are flashbacks that show exactly what was just described verbally, but the biggest crime of the cohesion within the screen is simply putting things together. The focus of the aperture goes on the wrong places, the lighting gets carried away with minimalism, things in the foreground block the actors unintentionally, all components that when put together, ruin your personal connection between the old married couple and the people they meet on their journey, which gets worse with the hopeless ending that gives no silver lining for today.
There are bits of joy however, particularly in moments of playing with the baby, which set a powerful contrast against the sun that beams behind dad as he mourns the loss of his son. The landscape shots are also well composed enough to make the sad ending well-earned; so as depressing as this movie may be, it wouldn’t have been as effective to make you feel down had it not included the happy memories and setting in comparison. One scene shows the dad teaching his grandson how to shave, with him using a comb instead of a razor, which is just so cute and depicts what a real relationship across those generations is like.
As the state of our world right now is not good, this film doesn’t shy away from how dark things really are for everyone. Things have been bad for all of us then as they are today, as we see happen with this broken family. Perhaps the biggest obstacle the old couple must face against is a creepy house in the middle of an empty field, because right there is where the scariest scenes happen, no cheese included. They also display Lesley Manville’s true acting skill as the only one in the cast giving it her all, especially during the intense ending full of social injustice that you never see coming.
But really though, what good are some emotional highs and lows is there isn’t a worthwhile message to generate a purpose for that roller coaster? Because for the most part, you will still be confused from the scene transitions that make you lose track of where or when you are. Sometimes it works, such as showing the details of the son’s work before we even see his face, but most of the time, it doesn’t. This sense of distance between the characters and yourself in turn make it feel these characters are distant from each other, and by that, I mean they were never close enough to justify the chaotic events they cause. In fact, the ultimate fate of the two main characters in the end actually proves that murder is okay as long as you think the other person deserves it, contrary to the mindset of the film that love saves. It seems more that there wasn’t any intent on delivering a message at all, rather just to create a mature thriller that can appeal to older people, yet for the majority of moviegoers, the result will be a boring void of nothingness, with a color palette of beige and dark beige. They won’t see how it compares to the here and now, they’ll just see it as something that should have stayed in the 1960s where it belongs.
Yes, there is always going to be family crisis. Having conflict with loved ones is always inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing something great with your relatives. It’s best to remember that there is always light at the end of every tunnel as long as you know where your hope needs to go. So I suggest taking the path away from the sign that says, “Let Him Go,” and more toward the sign that says, “Let Him Know.”
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!