Somehow my mission of watching one movie each day has led me on a real detour of sucktitude as of late. Today’s entry is Let Go the debut film from Writer/Director Brian Jett. The film is very well-acted and has a borderline-brilliant visual style. Unfortunately the script is utterly and irredeemably flawed. And calling it that, is me being kind.
Let Go follows three entirely unrelated parolees who’s stories are ever-so-loosely tied together by a common parole officer, Walter (David Denman). The official synopsis for the film refers to these as intertwining stories. This claim is complete bullshit. The three stories have nothing to do with each other, and honestly, Walter’s interactions are pretty-much completely irrelevant to two of the stories, and the resolution to the one story he’s involved in doesn’t make any sense.
Denman brings real weight and humanity to his character, which is a real challenge, because Walter doesn’t make any sense. For some completely-unexplained reason he is utterly dissatisfied with his life, despite a job that “pays well” and an incredibly beautiful and loving wife (Maria Thayer) at home. I think that Denman’s supposed to be this depressed because he doesn’t like his job, but honestly that’s not made clear. Moreover, there’s no indication given as to why he’s stuck in the job if he truly hates it that much. Enter Gillian Jacobs as Darla DeMint, an obviously manipulative beauty just released from prison on charges of selling stolen merchandise. Although she’s an obvious phoney she meets with some success in her attempts to draw Walter in, so that she can get permission before her violent ex-fiancee (who stole said stolen merchandise) catches up with her.
Meanwhile Ed Asner plays Brooks Hatlen Artie Satz an octogenarian parolee trying to adapt to life outside of prison. Asner gets opportunity to be at his irascible best, but he also brings some real depth to his performance. Unfortunately, his entire storyline is slow-moving, thoroughly depressing, and entirely predictable. On the plus-side this is the only storyline with a coherent beginning, middle, and end, one where the events that happen throughout the film, lead logically to where Artie is at the films end. The other two and a half stories aren’t so lucky. It’s too bad that the entire storyline is bereft of any semblance of joy. Instead, every time the film moves to the Artie storyline it comes to a screeching halt, to wallow in boredom and depression for five minutes, before moving on to more interesting material.
In speaking of more interesting material I am referring to the final story in the movie. Kevin Hart is utterly fantastic as Kris Styles a disgraced medical doctor, convicted of defrauding an insurance company, and forced (despite his financial resources) to maintain some type of full-time employment as a condition of his parole. Kris’ story is by far the best part of the film, and Hart brings an excellent combination of humor and soul to the character. I actually cared about what was going to happen to Kris next, and was interested to hear his back story, and see the pain emotional turmoil this character experienced.
This is a movie that is allegedly a comedy, but is, in fact perhaps the saddest most depressing motion picture I’ve ever endured. And it’s not really sad in a good way, where my heart goes out to the characters. Instead I was just left felling incredibly melancholy and depressed. It’s a movie about sad people being depressed. It’s not funny. On the other hand, it’d be a pretty damn pathetic drama. Because the film is focusing on so many different and unrelated stories, and because it takes a very leisurely pace establishing the stories through the first hour of the film, a couple of the stories seem to miss most of the “third act” and jump right to an ending without feeling earned. The acting, particularly the performance of Kevin Hart, is really first rate, and the film has a distinct, consistent and memorable visual style. Unfortunately, these are all drowned out by the mess of a script. I hope to see Brian Jett direct more movies in the future, so long as somebody else writes them. As it is, Let Go is not worth seeing.