A high point of the mostly meh 2013 Superman movie “Man of Steel” was the presence of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as the title character’s earth parents. These stars showed a mature chemistry that one would have wanted to experience in a mature motion picture.
As it turns out, Costner and the screenwriter-director of “Let Him Go,” Thomas Bezucha (adapting a novel by Larry Watson), seem to have thought similarly. In this drama set in the 1960s, Lane and Costner (one of the movie’s executive producers) play Margaret and George Blackledge. George is a former sheriff, now a horse farmer — although we learn that Margaret is the real rider. They live with their son James (Ryan Bruce), their daughter-in-law Lorna (Kayli Carter) and their infant grandson in what looks like reasonable contentment. But soon their son dies in an accident.
In the next scene, George and Margaret are dressed solemnly. For a funeral, we presume. But Bezucha pulls a nice bit of misdirection here. They are, rather, attending their former daughter-in-law’s wedding.
Margaret learns that Lorna’s new husband, Donnie (Will Brittain), is a domestic abuser. Before Margaret can do anything about it, Donnie has spirited Lorna and her child out of town. Margaret is determined to track them.
With uncommon stealth, “Let Him Go” morphs from a drama about loss and grief into a terrifying thriller. Lesley Manville, as a monstrous matriarch, turns up the heat. Jeffrey Donovan as one of her menacing sons is also outstanding. But the movie never loses sight of its character dynamics, beautifully acted by Costner and Lane. And it shows how this couple, whose back story is revealed only in judiciously placed flashbacks, sticks to its own wedding vows.
Let Him Go
Rated R for violence and language. Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes. In theaters. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.