Let Him Go

In a movie landscape littered with comic book movies, it’s refreshing to occasionally watch a drama aimed at more discerning viewers. ‘Let Him Go’ has its share of dramatic incidents amongst its thriller aspirations. It also helps having a veteran group of actors giving it their all. These should potentially deliver compelling viewing. There’s no shortage of that in ‘Let Him Go’ with its relatable characters and fine performances delivering more power than any cape wearing superhero.

A few years after their son’s death, retired Sheriff George (Kevin Costner) and his wife Margaret (Diane Lane) search for their grandson Jimmy. It begins when their former daughter in law Lorna (Kavli Carter) abruptly leaves her residence with new husband Donnie Weboy (Will Britain). Relocating against their will, they are soon under the care of Donnie’s disturbed and tyrannical mother Blanche (Lesley Manville). Determined to rescue their grandson from this dangerous situation, George and Margaret race against time in a quest to keep their family together.

Based on Larry Watson’s novel, ‘Let Him Go’ is a slow-burning movie. Occasionally it’s slowly paced but Thomas Bezucha’s direction generally keeps the narrative flowing. Much of its strength lies in Margaret and George’s relationship, with the two opposites uniting to reconnect their family. Their marital longevity shows them knowi how to work around each other in tough situations as well as their single-mindedness in rescuing their grandson. Costner and Lane perfectly capture their character’s traits, effectively providing the film’s solid backbone.

‘Let Him Go’ could have been the type of movie to quickly spiral into melodramatics. There are a few moments like that although the performances bring the film’s sense of realism back into focus. Manville is also especially good as Blanche, a tricky role balancing light and shade. It would have been very easy for her to go completely over the top - a credit to her skills that she doesn’t. The tense atmosphere and striking cinematography adds texture, making for gripping viewing.

‘Let Him Go’ is a solid antidote to the endless slew of superhero flicks. Low-key with firm direction and acting, it makes the most of a potentially thin story. That it stretches it into something genuinely compelling, highlights the care gone into adapting the source material into a memorable experience.

Rating out of 10: 7


The Curse of the Weeping Woman

There’s nothing worse than watching a movie wasting its potential. In this case, it’s a series of films throwing away a good concept. The ‘Conjuring universe’ has been a franchise with multiple spin-offs featuring urban-legend fuelled monsters. Most have been made at bargain basement costs and hugely profitable. That’s not a bad thing in Hollywood, although in this case it has seen the series slide into mediocrity. ‘The Curse of the Weeping Woman’ continues this downward trend. Made with little effort and on a shoestring budget, it further ruins the promise the ‘Conjuring’ films initially showed.

Anna (Linda Cardellini) is a social worker investigating a case of child truancy. After speaking to a mother of two children, Anna is shocked when a drowning tragedy befalls them. Searching for answers, Anna consults local priest Father Perez (Tony Amendola) who tells her the legend of La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez). An evil spirit who drowns children, La Llorona has Anna’s own children in her sights. Also helped by former priest Rafael (Raymond Cruz), Anna must defeat La Llorona’s wicked ways before she ensnares more victims into a watery grave.

‘The Curse of the Weeping Woman’ commits the sin of being boring. Although starting well, it quickly descends into very little. Chief amongst its crimes is while having so much to work with in terms of the La Llorona legend, it takes the least interesting path to explore. It’s very generic with endless jump scares and twists telegraphed miles away. Michael Chaves’ direction limps along with barely any energy or enthusiasm. He ‘programs’ than ‘directs’, with the machine-made plotting becoming increasingly obvious.

You can’t blame the cast who do their best with thin material. Cardellini makes for a sympathetic heroine who takes no nonsense even from spectral forces. The moody visuals are also a plus even if the way they are presented isn’t that great. By the halfway point, ‘The Curse of the Weeping Woman’ heavily relies on jump-scares/booming loud noises to see it through to its turgid and predictable ending.

Anymore films like ‘The Curse of the Weeping Woman’ and the growing ‘Conjuring Universe’ will itself be dead in the water. This latest entry is pretty dull with only the occasional flash of inspiration ensuring viewers stay awake. One truly does weep at these types of cheap quickie flicks with its curse on movie-going one would happily exorcise.

Rating out of 10: 2