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Let Him Go
  • Composed by Michael Giacchino
  • Back Lot / 55m

Based on Larry Watson’s novel, Let Him Go stars Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as grandparents who have to take desperate measures to rescue their grandson from the clutches of a dangerous family. It was rather improbably released to cinemas where it has made next-to-no money since nobody is going to cinemas – but I’m sure will find its audience when it’s available to people at home.

Both of director Thomas Bezucha’s previous films were scored by Michael Giacchino, though it’s fair to say that neither The Family Stone nor Monte Carlo regularly feature on lists of favourites. Let Him Go is clearly nothing like either of those scores – a serious, often touching score, it’s generally quite unlike anything else I can think of by the composer right from the outset.

Michael Giacchino

The outset is named, with a certain inevitability, “Let Him Goverture” and is made up of two different themes, each shot through with a pastoral beauty reflecting the family’s Montana location. Piano, guitar, solo violin and a string orchestra make up the instrumental palette and it’s such a warm, fuzzy piece of music – absolutely lovely. The main guitar theme gets if anything an even more lilting arrangement in “The Break of Dawn”.

Things turn considerably darker in the first half of “A Horse with no James” but then the piano theme is given an extremely melancholic performance in the second, which really is very touching. As the first half of the score continues, it’s mostly sweetness and light with variations on the two themes and you’re tempted to settle back and deep-fry some chicken on the barbecue (or whatever it is that people in Montana do).

Then almost without warning, some agitated Lost-style strings appear in “World’s Worst Rideshare” and the mood turns distinctly darker for most of the rest of the album. It is nearly all brooding and ominous and very understated – at times Giacchino weaves in the themes but the suspense plays out over an extended period and it’s effective at creating the desired atmosphere without being all that spectacular. My favourite feature is the kind of spaghetti western feeling from some of the guitar writing, which is (as everything is, really) done well even if it feels like the composer is keeping the handbrake on.

It comes fully off in “Taking Matters Into His Own Hands”, which sounds like it could be from a full-blown horror score with its screeching strings and pounding percussion – when the driving rhythm kicks in towards the cue’s end, it’s really great. This extremely dark sound continues into “Bad, Bad Weboys Down” before the bittersweet finale of “Burning Love” with its strained strings bringing a little light albeit with much sadness to go alongside it and a reprise of the lovely guitar theme in “Joy Ride”.

It feels like it’s been quite a long time now that Michael Giacchino has been spending much of his film scoring time working on so many huge franchises. He handles that stuff so well, but it is nice to see him doing something on a somewhat smaller scale. There’s some outstanding music at either end of the album, and while it could have been a sharper experience overall with some trimming in between, it’s worth getting for the two ends.

Rating: *** | |

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