Four stories of love, loss and redemption are told in this dramatic comedy from writer/director Brian Jett in his directorial debut, “Let Go.” As candy-colored as it is fun to watch, Jett introduces viewers to a highly thematic examination of humanity, warts and all.
As each character in the film struggles to find the straightened path, they must also reconsider the capacity by which they can change their ways. Will Darla, the ice-hearted vixen, ever learn to stop using men to get her way? Will Artie, the 90-year-old bank robber, find the love he never believed he deserved? Ultimately, the answers to these questions don’t matter — what does matter is the fun viewers will have along the way.
Ironically, “Let Go” might be more aptly named “Hang On,” as Darla, Kris, Artie and parole officer Walter each struggle to keep their heads above water. Darla, played by Gillian Jacobs (“Community”), spurned a crazy ex-boyfriend and then sold his stolen engagement ring on eBay.
Joined by their dependence on Walter to keep them out of trouble, Darla’s story is connected to those of Kris, the high profile LA doctor who stole more than $2 million from insurance companies, and Artie the ex-mobster, played by Ed Asner.
But Walter, played by David Denman of “The Office,” is battling his own demons: a job he can no longer tolerate and a marriage that seems as listless and dull as the monotony of his life. And while each story is spun with a heavy dose of fun, Jett surprises us with his quiet consideration of what it truly means to be human.
Walter, for example, can’t learn to appreciate his own wife until he is jolted awake by Darla’s overt sexuality. And Artie, curmudgeon if ever there was one, can’t be loved until he learns to admit that his real mistake was not in the robbing of 27 various banks.
But the meat of “Let Go” rests on Kris’s ample shoulders. Comedian Kevin Hart takes a fascinatingly understated approach to the ironic humor of his character’s predicament. He did, after all, commit egregious insurance fraud. He ends up losing his license, marriage, reputation, and if that weren’t enough, he must dress as a giant hot dog and wield a “$1.99 combo” sign or risk returning to prison.
While Hart is known for his laugh-out-loud standup, this role allows him to express a wider range of human emotion, of which boisterous laughs, at least on his end, are not the foremost.
The beauty in “Let Go,” aside from the strong performances, is in the visual presentation. Pops of color abound in each scene, symbolically so in some cases. Darla is never seen without her signature bright red lips. Kris entombs himself in a Clorox-white mansion to avoid further humiliation. Artie’s puke-green apartment contrasts with his surprisingly pink complexion. And as Walter sits next to his wife in their strikingly blue living room, she in a bright blue dress, Walter remarks in frustration that sometimes he “feels like he’s drowning.” Each character’s pain is real, but much like Alice in “Alice in Wonderland,” all four seem to be stuck in very surreal situations.
“Let Go” creates likable characters out of previously overdone clichés. Darla and Artie might have easily been reduced to a carbon-copy bombshell and a mean old person, but they inject humanity into roles that could otherwise seem redundant. It is a joy to watch, as much for the visual experience as it is for the emotional substance.Contact Magdalena Bresson.