by Nav Qateel
When a father is given bad news by his doctor, he decides to take his twin son and daughter on a camping trip. After they almost drown while fishing in a fast-moving river, the teenage brother and sister begin a journey of self discovery.
To first put you fully in the picture about how Don't Let Me Go came into being, we must go back to 2013. With Producer Giuseppe Pedersoli on board, writer-director Giorgio Serafini had a singular vision of how this very personal film was going to look. But he wasn't happy with the results, so shelved the project for 3 years until the begining of 2016. After locking himself away for two weeks to concentrate on re-editing, Serafini has produced a captivating film that, while not flowing as well as perhaps it could, the end results speak for themselves. What we're left with is a beautifully shot fantasy-drama, with incredible acting by a stellar cast of appealing young actors. And some not-so-young actors! Being a huge fan of Japanese cinema, I found the ambiguity of certain scenes in Don't Let Me Go to be entrancing. It allows viewers to fill in the blanks and create their own interpretation of what Michelle, Nick and Chris are going through and how their journey will end.
Don't Let Me Go opens with Chris Madsen (James Le Gros) being given bad news by a doctor concerning his health, but he doesn't want the doc to tell his ex-wife and children. We later learn that Chris will need a life-saving operation. Fearing he may not have long to live, Chris takes his teenage kids, Nick and Michelle, on a camping trip. After they nearly drown and get separated, Chris heads off to try to find help, and the twins find themselves being chased by various demons then helped by friendly forest dwellers.
Joel Courtney, who most will know from his star turn in JJ Abrams Super 8, plays Nick Madsen. Nick is angry at his father for not being there as he was growing up. Exactly why Chris wasn't there is revealed during the third act. Courtney really shone here and played his part to perfection. Both he and co-star Isabelle Fuhrman are very natural and convincing actors.
Isabelle Fuhrman plays sister Michelle. Like Courtney, Fuhrman has had an interesting career, with the first film I remember seeing the actress perform in was the scary Orphan (2009), where she played a psychotic woman disguised as a young girl. Michelle is happy that dad Chris is around, and she's clearly enjoying herself. A couple of times Michelle has to intervene when Nick lets his anger show at their dad.
The prolific James Le Gros completes the main trio of actors in Don't Let Me Go, and like the young thespians, he gives it his all. La Gros looks like he's at ease no matter what the situation, such is the professionalism he exudes. All three actors had a chemistry that translated well on screen, which helped sell the story. Watch out for Natalia Dyer as the main forest dweller, and Peter Bogdanovich who performs an impromptu singalong to T-Rex's Children of the Revolution! Most entertaining.
Is it an easy film to follow? That depends on what you bring to it. Close off your mind and you'll find parts of the film difficult to interpret. But go in wide open and experience the unfolding drama, and the rewards are most fulfilling. It won't be to everyone's taste, however enough should find Don't Let Me Go entertaining.