My first thought about Thomas Bezucha‘s Let Him Go (Focus Features, 11.6), which is a kind of period western, set 50 or 60 years ago, about family, horses, children, continuity, guns, axes and fingers…my first reaction was “wow, this is really well directed…so nicely composed, exacting, unafraid of silences, confidently paced, grounded.”

So right away I relaxed and settled in. This’ll be good, I told myself. Quite obviously. So well acted all around, so commanding, so nicely honed. And Guy Godfree‘s cinematography and Michael Giacchino‘s score are perfect. I was purring. I love films like this! I felt so good about it that I put some popcorn into the microwave. You know what I mean. If a film is really bringing it, popcorn completes the mood.

And then something happened around the 80-minute mark, and I went “what the hell?”

That’s all I’m going to say. I’m not going to elaborate except to say that the film, which is about a pair of grandparents (Kevin Costner, Diane Lane) who’ve lost their adult son in a fatal horse-riding accident, and months later are looking to see about the welfare of their three-year-old grandson after their son’s widow (Kayli Carter) has married a primitive bumblefuck who lives with a family of ornery polecat varmints a la Animal Kingdom and is headed by a cigarette-smoking Ma Barker sociopath (Lesley Manville)…I’ll only say that things turn rather violent around the 80-minute mark and hoo boy.

After it ended an excerpt from Barry Hertz‘s Globe and Mail review kinda pissed me off. It called Let Him Go a “skillfully executed thriller that is narrowly aimed at one demographic — audiences over 50 who like a little violence with their late-life dramas — but succeeds at entertaining just about anyone who comes across its dusty, blood-soaked path.”

So if a movie is smoothly assembled and takes its time building characters and moves at its own steady pace, it’s strictly an over-50 thing? Because…what, 45-and-under audiences require something noisier and punchier and faster-paced or they won’t sit still? My God, what’s happened to western civilization by way of movie culture? Because the cinematic value system that Hertz has described is, like, really fucked up.

Hats off to Bezucha, who directed, produced and wrote the screenplay adaptation of Larry Watson‘s same-titled 2013 novel. Bezucha knows what he’s doing. Let Him Go feels like it might have been directed by David Fincher or Fred Zinneman or William Wyler.

I’m wondering why Bezucha hasn’t directed a major attention-getting feature since The Family Stone (’05). That’s a long time to be doing this and that and puttering around.

I’ll get into Let Him Go a bit more after it begins streaming on Friday.