There is a whole lot of family emotions in the early stages of the presentation. But the overall impression I came away with is that of a film that goes fiercely formulistic in the endeavour to manufacture a mass-oriented climax.
To begin with, it’s a moving story of an autumnal couple George and Margaret whose son dies in a freak accident and whose only grandson is taken away from them when their daughter-in-law remarries and disappears with her predictably inappropriate new husband.
This is a strong powerful drama about humanism and legal ownership. Sadly the plot turns progressively preposterous and what I was left watching was a Gothic rescue drama where the little grandson has to be snatched away from an evil family overseered by a monstrous matriarch played with a witch’s cackle by veteran actress Leslie Manville, who for the first time hams as if there is no tomorrow.
There is a dreadful sense of downward-spiralling in the storytelling. It starts off with restrained dignity and pathos and then moves into pulp gear, abandoning all pretensions to being a story of a grieving couple’s efforts to set things right. There are bloodied confrontations including a hand being chopped off by an axe and a raging fire at the end that envelopes much more than just the evil characters.
One of the evil broods offers that Margaret stay back and he will send her to her husband later.
“The only thing is, you may not want to go back,” he adds lecherously. Eeew to that.
Watching the narrative plunge to puerility so passionately is almost like seeing the plot gone from frying pan to the pot to the potty. Moreover, Costner and Lane have lopsided roles. She takes centrestage, initiates the search for their grandchild and refuses to give up the search even when they encounter the most evil family on earth since the Mansons.
It’s not all so awful, though. Throughout there are scatterings of sensitivity drowned in what can only be called a pounding pulp sensation which screams, ‘Don’t Go Away’ instead of ‘Let Him Go’.
We are with the film till the end. But only out of respect for the lead actors. Costner and Lane are the combined reason to keep watching this plot go up in flames, although Lane somehow lacks the tragic grandeur required of the character, at least initially when the world is not so cheesy. I'll go with 2.5 stars.
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